73-Year-Old Iranian Dies 2 Days after Interrogation by U.S. Customs

Thursday, December 27, 2012
Daryoush Sarreshteh with daughter Sepideh (photo: Sepiden Sarreshteh)

The family of Daryoush Sarreshteh, a former Iranian politician who had legal resident status in the U.S., is blaming the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for his death after subjecting him to intense interrogation at a Washington, DC, airport.


Sarreshteh, 73, and his wife, Sakineh, arrived at Dulles International Airport on Election Night after flying from Tabriz, Iran, where he was mayor during the reign of the Shah in the 1970s.


The couple, who were traveling to see their daughter and granddaughter in Virginia, had legal authorization to be in the country. Sakineh Sarreshteh is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Daryoush Sarreshteh possessed a green card, although he had not been in the U.S. for three years, according to The Washington Post.


In any event, CBP officials decided to interrogate the Sarreshtehs for five hours, during which they were shouted at in English—according to Sakineh—which neither understood.


When the husband and wife were released, Daryoush Sarreshteh appeared shaken and crying.


He died two days later from a sudden heart attack that, the family contends, was brought on by the interrogation. They are currently deciding whether to sue the CBP, which claims its officials acted in a professional manner. A review of an on-the-record interrogation transcript taken at the end of the incident was described by Tom Jackman of the Post as “not…particularly confrontational.” 


In response to the incident, Iran issued a travel warning to its citizens, describing the U.S. as a “high-risk” destination for Iranian travelers, who should exercise “maximum caution” during any visits.


During the time that Sarreshteh served as mayor of Tabriz, and also oversaw the city of Maku, one of his employees was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Iranian National Daryoush Sarreshteh, 73, Dies Two Days after Intense Questioning at Dulles (by Tom Jackman, Washington Post)

Daryoush Sarreshteh,73, Dies After What Family Calls 'Harsh Interrogation' By Customs Agents At Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va. (by Debra Alfarone, WUSA9.com)

Iran Issues US Travel Warning, Citing 'Iranophobia' (by Rachel Hirshfeld, Arutz Sheva)

US In No Position to Criticize Others on Human Rights: Iran (Press TV)


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