On the morning of my appearance before an Iranian Revolutionary Court, where I was convicted on a fabricated charge of espionage, I heard the chant "Death to America!" from the world beyond my prison window. The chant, and the associated stereotype of Islamic Iran, was quite different from what I heard in Section 209, the grim area of Evin Prison where political detainees are beaten, tortured and held without charge. As Americans, my friend and cellmate
When I'd sing anguished songs to the emptiness, I'd hear a knock of solidarity on my wall from an adjoining cell. Then another knock. Then a whisper from the hallway, and the soothing words in English, "We hope you become free!" Prisoners would hide candies in the washroom for us to find. I'd repay the kindness by sneaking chocolates, which my interrogators let me have, into the shower for my hall mates to discover.
Over the 781 days of my incarceration, I developed a deep sense of solidarity with these Iranians. I landed in Evin Prison by happenstance in the summer of 2009. Shane and his girlfriend,
In the weeks before our arrest, millions of Iranians had taken to the streets of Tehran in anger at the rigged reelection of President
The so-called Green Movement that these jailed activists embraced wasn't as easily crushed as the government would have liked. Though the popular protests died down, dissatisfaction over domestic issues, including the economy and restrictions on personal freedoms, remained high and became a major factor in last year's presidential election victory of the reform-minded
In my mother's letters to me in jail, she shared her conviction that my ordeal would lead to a diplomatic breakthrough between the United States and Iran. I liked the idea of something beneficial coming from my time behind bars. To me, life seemed to revolve around attempts to memorize poetry and to juggle dried oranges. She seemed incurably optimistic, like her reassurances in letters that I would be released "any day now."
Yet my mother's dream was not so far-fetched. Nine months into my detention, my interrogators led me blindfolded out of my cell to meet a man they described mysteriously as a "foreign diplomat from this region." Awaiting Shane, Sarah and me in a prison office was Salem Ismaeli, an Omani businessman and envoy of Sultan
It took more than a year for Salem to deliver us to freedom and the waiting arms of our families on the tarmac in Muscat. The Associated Press has since reported that Oman's mediation led to direct
With talks between Iran and six world powers on a permanent accord resuming this week, some voices in
It is time to end the mutual hostility for good. A permanent accord that limits Iran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for a lifting of sanctions would make my relatives in Israel safer. It would make my family in the United States safer. And it would strengthen the hand of the brave Iranians I met in the dark corridors of Evin Prison in their continuing struggle for democracy.