August 23, 2016

State Department Warns Iranian Americans About Travel to Iran

The State Department’s newest travel advisory highlights the continued risk of arrest and detention that Iranian Americans face when traveling to Iran, specifically advising U.S. citizens to weigh the risks and ‘consider postponing their travel’ to Iran. The advice to consider postponing travel is an addition to the State Department’s last travel warning from March, which advised U.S. citizens to carefully consider nonessential travel while highlighting the risk to dual nationals.

According to the travel warning, “Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison U.S. citizens, particularly Iranian-Americans, including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics, on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security. Iranian authorities have also prevented the departure, in some cases for months, of a number of Iranian-American citizens who traveled to Iran for personal or professional reasons.”

The Iranian-American community travels frequently to Iran, including to visit family and friends, with a majority of the community having traveled to the country at least once. As noted in the warning, the Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship and will not allow the Swiss embassy – which provides consular services to U.S. citizens in Iran in the absence of U.S. diplomatic relations – to provide protective services. According to the State Department, “The U.S. government’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited.”

While not specifically mentioned in the travel warning, Iranian Americans Siamak and Baquer Namazi remain imprisoned on unknown grounds, along with Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon. Another Iranian American, Robin Shahini, was arrested in July. Iranian dual nationals from other Western countries – including Canada, France and the UK – have also been arrested in recent months. NIAC has condemned Iran’s arrest of dual nationals and has called for their release, in addition to urging Iran to immediately comply with its international human rights obligations.

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