Haleh Esfandiari is the director of the Middle East program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
"Haleh Esfandiari was a NED Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow from February-June 1995.
"Professor Esfandiari is a native of Iran who has been teaching Persian language and literature at Princeton University for the past fifteen years. Before coming to the United States she worked as a reporter and editor with the Kayhan newspapers in Tehran, then as a senior official of the Women's Organization of Iran, and subsequently as the Deputy Director of an important cultural organization in Tehran. While a fellow at the Forum, Professor Esfandiari worked on a book entitled Reconstructed Lives: Women and the Islamic Revolution. It is based on interviews she conducted during visits to Iran and examines in detail, through individual biographies, how Iranian women have coped with the impact on their lives of the Islamic Revolution."
"Former Deputy Secretary General of the Women's Organization of Iran; journalist; Fellow at the Wilson Center 1995-1996; educator at Princeton University from 1980-1994; frequent lecturer on current Iranian affairs." 
Detention in Iran
Haleh Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh are the "[t]wo Iranian-American scholars detained since May  on national security charges [that] appeared in a program on nationwide television on Wednesday night that suggested that they were part of a project to try to overthrow the Iranian government." 
- "Public Relations of IRI Intelligence Ministry here Monday elaborated on detainment of Haleh Esfandiari.
- "In Intelligence Ministry's communiqué, a copy of which was delivered to IRNA, we read,
- "Intelligence surveys on efforts made by certain US institutes, foundations, and organizations aimed at influencing the developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran reveled certain facts for us."
- "It adds, "The truth of the matter is that those bodies are under the umbrella of such titles as democracy, human rights, and...playing the role that their intelligence and information services used to play against countries in question in the past."
- "The Intelligence Ministry announced, "Regarding Mrs. Haleh Esfandiari, too, we point out that she is the head and founder of the Middle East Program of Wilson Center in the United States, whose budget is allocated by the US Congress."
- ""That center is the connection ring between the Iranians and the US organizations and foundations whose main objective is fortifying the social trends that act in line with the interests of the aliens. For instance, Ramin Jahanbeglou, who was one of the guests of this center, had been chosen by the NED Foundation, relying on the cooperation of other US foundations, theoretized the model of East Europe's collapse, matched it with the situation in Iran, and tried to pursue it as a project."
- "The Intelligence Ministry reiterated, "In conducted research Mrs. Esfandiari has pointed out that the center's activities and programs related to Iran were sponsored and financed by the famous Soros Foundation, that is a US foundation owned by George Soros that has played key roles in intrigues that have led to colorful revolutions in former USSR republics in recent years."
- "The Ministry's Public Relations has furthermore stressed, "Relying on cooperation of Mrs. Esfandiari the head and representative of the US based Soros Foundation in Iran was identified and an arrest warrant was issued for him, the complementary research about the matter still continues."" 
Criticism of U.S. aid to Iran
"The United States has begun a $75-million program to promote democracy by supporting Iranian NGO's [non-governmental organizations]," Haleh Esfandiari and Robert Litwak wrote in the October 11, 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. "That program, coupled with loose talk about regime change ... has fed a sense of vulnerability and paranoia among elements of Iran's ruling regime." Iranian officials have warned scholars, students, NGO workers and others not to travel overseas, lest they be recruited for U.S. plots. Iran also suspects "the grant-giving programs of American foundations, universities, and think tanks." 
While the U.S. has used similar methods to destabilize other governments, in Iran the approach has backfired, "further reducing the political space for open debate in Iran," warned Esfandiari and Litwak. "In this new climate of intimidation, NGO's and journalists are subject to censorship and are defensively engaging in self-censorship. Prominent Iranian activists, such as the Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, declared their opposition to the U.S. program." Instead, Esfandiari and Litwak suggested, "governments should talk to governments, while Iranian and American NGO's should be permitted to interact in a transparent fashion without the intrusion of governments." 
- Shaul Bakhash and Haleh Esfandiari, "The 25th Anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution: Looking Back and Ahead," Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 27, 2004.
- Former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow's, NED, accessed July 24, 2007.
- [http://hoder.com/weblog/archives/016377.shtml E:M | Haleh Esfandiari and NED
- Haleh Esfandiari, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, accessed July 24, 2007.
- Advisory Board, Iraqi Women's Educational Institute, accessed November 30, 2007.
- Advisory Board, Project on Middle East Democracy, accessed November 18, 2008.
- Nazila Fathi, "Iran Suggests That Detainees Were Part of Plot", New York Times, July 19, 2007.
- Iran admits detaining US academic, BBC, May 14, 2007.
- Anthony H. Cordesman, "Iran, “Soft Power," and Haleh Esfandiari", CSIS, May 24, 2007.
- Haleh Esfandiari and Robert Litwak, "When Promoting Democracy Is Counterproductive," Chronicle of Higher Education, October 19, 2007.