Saturday, April 28, 2012

Iran: US Department of State Updates Travel Warning

Effective April 27, 2012, and in light of increasing risks to US-Iranian dual nationals, the US Department of State has updated its travel warning for Iran to suggest that US citizens with dual citizenship carefully assess the political ramifications of their traveling to Iran.

COMMENT:  As some of our readers may not know, in January, former Marine Amir Hekmati, 28, a US citizen born in Arizona of Iranian parents was sentenced to death on charges of working for the CIA. 

Fortunately, Hekmati was authorized a new trial due to "flaws" in his first trial. It is unknown when this new trial will commence.

Needless to say,  the case has added a great deal more tension to US-Iranian relations, as Washington and its allies press ahead with sanctions over Iran's contentious nuclear development program.

Hekmati was arrested by Iranian authorities shortly after he visited Iran in late 2011 to see his grandmother. Iran accused Hekmati of receiving special training while serving at US military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Iran for an intelligence mission. 

In December 2011, Iran broadcast a video on state television in which Hekmati was shown delivering a purported confession, in which he said he was part of a plot to infiltrate Iran's intelligence agency. 

Regardless, the US Government has denied the charge on Kekmati's behalf, knowing he may have been coerced to confess, including threats to harm family members still in Iran.

My personal recommendation is that US-Iranian dual nationals NOT travel to Iran at all, particularly given the threat of being harassed, interrogated, jailed, tried, etc. 

It is also worthy of pointing out that retired  FBI agent Bob Levinson, 63, disappeared in Iran in 2007, while on a consulting assignment. It is unknown as to his current whereabouts or condition, although he is believed to be alive.

For the full text of the Department's newest travel warning on Iran, please see the below link:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5703

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