Student held in Iran returns

A Cal State Northridge graduate student who was briefly imprisoned in Iran while working on her master’s thesis on women’s rights and then prohibited from leaving the country for nine months returned this week to Los Angeles, school officials said Thursday.

Esha Momeni, 29, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday and was greeted by friends and family.

“It is wonderful news,” Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester said in a prepared statement. “All of us in the CSU Northridge community have been looking forward to this day. I have met briefly with Esha, and she appears to be in fine spirits.”

Momeni, who has dual citizenship in Iran and the United States, was arrested Oct. 15 for allegedly speeding along a Tehran highway and escorted to her family’s home, where police confiscated her computer and video-taped interviews she had conducted for her thesis, her family said at the time.


Los Angeles-born Momeni was in Tehran conducting research on the country’s women’s rights movement. She is a member of Change for Equality, a nonprofit organization which trains women in nonviolent political activism and civil disobedience.

Momeni was held in the political ward of Iran’s infamous Evin Prison for 25 days before she was released on $200,000 bail, paid with the deed to her parent’s home, according to a news release on a website dedicated to her release.

After Momeni’s release, Iranian officials said she was free to leave the country until her trial. But her father, Reza Momeni, told The Times in November that authorities were holding her travel documents.

On Tuesday, she was finally allowed to board a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, before traveling to Los Angeles.