ABOVE: Amir Ardebili
All of the installments in the outstanding series on the Ardebili case under John Shiffman’s byline at The Philadelphia Inquirer have now been published, and each article is a treasure trove of new information about the case. Although I’m going to highlight a few interesting things revealed by the series, don’t let that deter you from reading the whole thing. There is much more to be learned in the articles than I have the time and space to cover here.
When Ardebili was released from jail in Georgia, he was whisked back to the U.S. on a Gulfstream IV that cost the United States $300,000 to rent. While on the way back, one of his interrogators from Immigration and Customs Enforcement lied to him:
You have a right to an attorney. While you can have an attorney paid for by the Iranian government, you should be careful, because that lawyer will probably report everything you say back to Tehran. You tell the Iranian lawyer the wrong thing, and it might endanger your family.
Because, of course, such a lawyer would readily violate attorney-client privilege to endanger his or her client’s family
Once Ardebili was in the United States, the U.S. government not only threw him into solitary confinement, but also they gave him a fictitious name to conceal what had been done. When an Ardebili relative in the United States was approached by Ardebili’s family in Iran, he hired Ross Reghabi, an Iranian-American lawyer in Beverly Hills, who assured the family that he could find Ardebili if he was here:
Reghabi was not a criminal lawyer. He specialized in family and business matters, and taught an advanced accounting class at the University of California, Los Angeles. But he knew enough to assure his friend that the U.S. government did not routinely hold people in secret confinement.
Don’t worry, he said. This is America, not Iran. Laws and procedures must be followed. People don’t just disappear.
Well, perhaps that was true at one time. It certainly wasn’t any longer.
So why was Ardebili in solitary confinement under an assumed name? Because the U.S. government had assumed his identity and was continuing to negotiate with the U.S. companies that had been approached by Ardebili. They found hundreds of contacts on Ardebili’s computer. And they planned on keeping Ardebili in the hole forever, if they had to, until they had run down all their contacts. And, according to the article, around 100 U.S. companies are still under investigation based on leads from Ardebili’s computer.