Friends, Family: Iran May Be Holding San Diego Man

Human rights advocate Robin Shahini taken by Iranian authorities, family says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2016 10:37 AM CDT
Friends, Family: Iran May Be Holding San Diego Man
Robin Shahini   (Facebook)

After graduating from San Diego State University in May, Gholamrez "Reza" Shahini, known to most as Robin, headed to Iran to visit his mom and other family. But the 46-year-old San Diego man hasn't been heard from in more than 10 days, and friends and family back in the States fear the US citizen may have been detained by Iranian authorities for his vocal online criticism of his native country's human rights record, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. "He just disappeared off the face of the planet," says friend Denera Ragoonanan. A woman who says she's Shahini's girlfriend, requesting anonymity to protect her own family in Iran, tells the AP Shahini's sister told her intelligence agents came to their mother's home on July 11 and whisked him away.

The last post on the Facebook page he keeps in Farsi was dated July 11; another FB page the Union-Tribune says he maintained in English has since become inaccessible. Shahini left Iran in 1998, lived in Germany for a short time, and then moved to San Diego, which he's called home for 16 years. With a degree in international security and conflict resolution under his belt, he was set to begin an SDSU master's program in homeland security in the fall. "His passion involves peace and justice, human rights," his girlfriend tells the AP, and Ragoonanan notes that's what she and others believe may have got him into trouble overseas. "Robin has been known for his advocacy of human rights on social media," she wrote Tuesday in a Facebook post. "This advocacy, unfortunately, has not sat well with the Iranian government." (Read more Iran stories.)

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