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Dr. Haleh Esfandiari is an Iranian American Academic, writer and Scholar and the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Her areas of expertise include Middle Eastern women's issues, contemporary Iranian intellectual currents and politics, and democratic developments in the Middle East. In May 2007, she was detained and kept in solitary confinement, in Iran's notorious and dreaded Evin Prison for more than 110 days on charges of "Endangering Iranian National Security" but was later released. Her new book My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran is based on this experience.
She is married to Shaul Bakhash, a Jewish Iranian American professor of history at George Mason University. Esfandiari is also said to be friends with Iranian human rights activist and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, and with Faiza (Faezeh) Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former MP and a daughter of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.