SDSU graduate released on bail from Iranian prison

by Will Fritz, Senior Staff Writer

San Diego State ISCOR graduate Gholamrez “Robin” Shahini, who was sentenced to 19 years in an Iranian prison last July, was released on bail March 19, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi said the Center confirmed Shahini was released through multiple firsthand sources.

Ghaemi said Shahini is currently with his family in Iran, and is unable to leave the country.

“Technically right now he has a travel ban because he was a prisoner,” he said.

Ghaemi said the Center is calling for Shahini’s immediate return to San Diego.

SDSU student Sevil Suleymani, a friend of Shahini’s, said Shahini is awaiting a decision on his conviction from an appeals court.

Suleymani said Shahini was released after about 30 days on a hunger strike.

“His situation was very bad,” she said. “They obviously don’t want an American dying on their hands. So it’s nothing to do with the appeal court. To be honest, it was because (of) his health situation.”

Suleymani said while she is relieved Shahini was let go on bail, she is still concerned for his safety because the Iranian government can revoke his bail at will.

“It still is not done,” she said. “There’s no guarantee he’s going to  be free forever. They can ask him to go back to jail.”

Shahini was arrested July 11, 2016, while visiting family in his hometown of Gorgan, Iran.

Suleymani said at the time of his arrest she believed Shahini was targeted because of his Facebook posts critical of the Iranian government.

In October 2016, Shahini was convicted of charges relating to espionage, collaboration with a hostile government and blasphemy.

Shahini graduated from SDSU in May 2016, and was accepted into SDSU’s Homeland Security graduate program at the time of his arrest.

A U.S. Department of State official said the agency is aware of Shahini’s release on bail and has no further comment at this time.

The Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., did not respond to a request for comment.