Update, 4:10pm: Reader Diana Rossi reports that she made a call to the number cited in our story below and that her experience was frustrating. We made inquiries with people close to the campaign and this is their response:
Thank you so much for the piece in Berkeleyside. I am so grateful. In terms of your [reader’s] experience calling the Iranian Interests Section, it has been similar to what many others have heard. They have given excuses, told people to call other places, and said it is the wrong number to call. Please be assured that the DC office is the highest level Iranian office in the US. Our campaign the last few days has been a resounding success, which is why the Iranian Interests section has been so rude and short with callers. The best way to get through is press 2 for non Iranian citizens, 2 for general information, and 1 or 0 to speak to a representative.
It was two years ago this month that three former Cal students were arrested in Iran and detained on suspicion of spying.
Sarah Shourd was released last Fall, but Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are still in prison and are expected to face trial on July 31.
A campaign to help release Bauer and Fattal has declared this week a week of action and is urging people to show their support for the two men, who could face many more years behind bars if convicted.
“One Million Voices for Shane and Josh” is hoping to blitz Iranian authorities in the U.S. with telephone calls from supporters from around the globe. A campaign statement reads: “We will remind the Iranian government that the whole world is watching and wants Bauer and Fattal’s immediate release to their family.”
Berkeley councilmember Gordon Wozniak has a personal connection with the two ex-Cal grad students as they are friends of his son and daughter- in-law. “These two former Cal student are caught up in a web of international political intrigue and face additional years in prison for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said in an email to garner support. “Let us not forget those who are imprisoned unjustly.”
The campaign asks that this week, though Friday at 5pm EST, people call the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington D.C. at (202) 965-4990 and leave the following message: “I am a supporter of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. I know that the two are not spies and urge you to release them and allow them to travel home to their families tomorrow.”