U.S. Releases Seized Iranian Dulcimers to Legendary California Music Professor

Washington DC (USA) –(BUSINESS WIRE)– The very mention of the word ‘Iran,’ can often trigger a reflexive enforcement response by the U.S. Government. But in the case of Manoochehr Sadeghi, an internationally renowned musician and retired UCLA professor of musicology, reason prevailed, and U.S. officials allowed Professor Sadeghi to take possession of musical instruments that otherwise might have been embargoed under U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.
 In August, 2007, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized four miniature dulcimers (called santurs in Persian) that a relative in Iran had sent to Professor Sadeghi. After considering a petition by Professor Sadeghi’s attorney, however, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) at the U.S. Department of the Treasury granted Professor Sadeghi a license to import the dulcimers and Customs finally released the instruments to Professor Sadeghi.Professor Sadeghi was born in Iran in 1938, moved to the United States in 1964 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2001. He is a virtuoso on the santur, an Iranian stringed instrument played with two featherweight mallets. Professor Sadeghi began studying as a child in Iran, performed as a soloist with the Iranian national orchestra and has performed before foreign dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the late King Hussein of Jordan. He taught at the Conservatory of Persian Music and, after moving to the United States, became a professor of Persian classical music, theory, history and performance at UCLA. His students have included Daniel Sheehy, the Director of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, and the Hon. Jimmy Delshad, the mayor of Beverly Hills, California and the highest-elected Iranian-American official in the United States.

In Los Angeles, Professor Sadeghi has performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. He has also performed in Washington, D.C. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Freer Gallery of Art, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. He has received the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts.

Professor Sadeghi uses the dulcimers to privately teach students, give concert performances, and promote greater understanding of Iranian culture and music. He plans to eventually donate the dulcimers to museums throughout the United States.

Commenting on his receipt of the license, Professor Sadeghi said, “Music transcends all political boundaries and differences. I am enormously grateful to the Treasury Department for not letting our current relations with Iran stand in the way of my receiving these wonderful instruments.”

Professor Sadeghi’s attorney, David H. Laufman, a partner at Kelley Drye & Warren, secured the release of the professor’s seized instruments after persuading OFAC to grant him a license. He stated that “It’s never easy to obtain a license to bring in goods from Iran, particularly in the current enforcement climate. OFAC is to be commended for taking a hard look at the facts and coming to an equitable resolution.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog recently profiled Laufman for his efforts.

Beverly Hills Mayor Delshad commented that “Professor Sadeghi is the world’s leading master of the Persian santur and it has been a privilege to be his pupil.”