Esfandiari recounts her harrowing experience in a newly released book called My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran (HarperCollins).The story began in Tehran when, while visiting her 93-year-old mother, Esfandiari was stopped by knife wielding intelligence officials who accused her of plotting to overthrow the government. This incident, which occurred December 30, 2006, led to four months of house arrest and intense interrogation, followed by another four months in Evin Prison. She was released in August 2007, following a robust diplomatic effort that involved her colleagues at the Wilson Center and members of the U.S. Congress.
During her talk Monday, some members of the hushed audience — including the colleagues who spent months trying to secure her release — appeared to fight back tears as Esfandiari recounted the details of her experience. Questioned for hours on end by interrogators, Esfandiari says she was never permitted to look at her accusers, and instead stared at a cement wall. Three months of her time was spent in solitary confinement, and she was repeatedly blindfolded as she was moved about the prison.