May 11, 2005

Dutch furious about alleged intimidation, expatica

AMSTERDAM — Foreign Minister Ben Bot is demanding an explanation from the Iranian ambassador to the Netherlands following the alleged intimidation of a Dutch MP at Tehran airport on Monday.

The minister's spokesman said Bot will write a letter to his Iranian counterpart demanding an explanation.

Green-left GroenLinks MP Farah Karimi claims she was "threatened and intimidated" while questioned about her contacts with Iranian human rights activists. Her address book, notebooks and diary were briefly confiscated and possibly copied.

The MP, of Iranian ancestry, is enraged by the "scandalous treatment" and had urged Minister Bot on Tuesday to lodge a protest with the Iranian


During her 10-day visit to Iran — her fifth visit to the Middle East country — Karimi met with human rights activists, including Nobel Peace laureate, Shirin Ebadi.

She also spoke with reformist politicians, journalists and others campaigning to reform the dictatorial regime in Iran.

The visit passed without incident until Karimi checked in for her return flight to the Netherlands on Monday night.

Public servants with the Information Ministry then questioned her and indicated they were displeased with her initiative to set up a satellite broadcaster in Iran. They warned that in future visits, Karimi might be restricted to just visiting family.

After her passport was checked, Iranian soldiers twice inspected her three carry-on bags and took her notebooks, diaries, two mobile phones and address book to another room. She was given her belongings back, but Karimi fears they have been copied.

"I am very concerned about the people I spoke with in Iran. The Ministry of Information knew of my contacts and discussions, but the army, prosecutors and police form a parallel structure and can arrest people because they spoke with me," she said.

Karimi said she chose to go public with her story because her contacts in Iran said only political pressure from outside Iran can help.

Meanwhile, Liberal VVD MP Hans van Baalen said Minister Bot must condemn the intimidation and demand guarantees for the people listed in Karimi's address book.

تبليغات خبرنامه گويا 

He'd also said the Iranian ambassador must be called to explain the incident and the Dutch ambassador to Iran be recalled for consultation.

Co-initiator of the plan to set up a satellite broadcaster to support free Iranian media, Van Baalen said the intimidation of Karimi was "unacceptable".

"Iran violates human rights and threatens to develop nuclear weapons. Actions such as these make it clear where Iran stands," he said.

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