The Corner

The Signs We Send Are Brilliant

Iran refuses to cooperate on…just about anything. Iran wants to destroy us and wipe Israel off the map. Iran takes British hostages, humiliates Britiain. Iran takes U.S. hostages. We seem not to notice. We meet with Iran. Citibank, following federal mandates, freezes the accounts of the spouse of one of the American hostages Iran has taken:  

It was a hard enough day for Shaul Bakhash, as he dealt with the ongoing drama surrounding the imprisonment in Iran of his wife, noted American scholar Haleh Esfandiari. Then he found an express letter on the doorstep of his Potomac home yesterday morning announcing that Citibank had frozen his wife’s bank accounts on grounds that she is now a “resident” of Iran.

In the letter, Citibank said the accounts had been frozen “in accordance with U.S. Sanctions regulations,” which stipulate that U.S. banks are prohibited from servicing accounts for residents of Iran.

So began a stressful process of inquiries and appeals for help — to the bank, financial contacts, the State Department and the press — to finally reach a resolution.

Bakhash, a historian at George Mason University, quickly learned that his two Citibank accounts had also been closed, even though he has not visited Iran since 1980. Bakhash and Esfandiari are both U.S. citizens, but Esfandiari has maintained her Iranian passport so she can visit her family in Tehran twice a year. She was on a 10-day visit to see her 93-year-old mother when she was put under virtual house arrest for four months, after which she was jailed in Tehran’s Evin Prison on May 8. Iran charged her this week with espionage and endangering national security.

While the policy probably generally makes sense, someone you would think, would have thought of this and made sure it didn’t happen…