US man home after release from Iranian prison

Reza Taghavi was jailed on allegations that he passed money to a rebel group.

Los Angeles: A California businessman who spent more than two years in an Iranian prison after being accused of passing money to a rebel group returned home on Thursday.

Reza Taghavi, 71, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at about 7 pm with his attorney, former US diplomat Pierre Prosper, who won Taghavi`s release after talks with Iranian envoys.

Taghavi cleared customs and was meeting separately with his immediate family before greeting dozens of supporters who had gathered at the airport, airport spokesman Albert Rodriguez said.

Taghavi, an Orange County resident who regularly visits Iran to conduct business, was jailed on allegations that he passed USD 200 to someone suspected of links to a rebel group called Tondar. Tondar is suspected of a 2008 mosque bombing that killed 14 people in the southern city of Shiraz.

Taghavi was never charged and denies knowingly supporting the faction. He was freed on Saturday after 29 months in prison and had to meet with survivors of the bombing as a condition of his release.

For a time early Thursday, Taghavi and Prosper worried he might not be able to leave on time. Iranian authorities threw up unexpected last-minute passport requirements once Taghavi arrived at the airport, Prosper said. It took hours to resolve, but Taghavi boarded the flight as scheduled.

Prosper said that although Iran allowed Taghavi to leave, it did not dismiss his case outright.

Bureau Report

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