"Before Youssef and Elana Tehrani flew from Iran to Austria, they entrusted their eldest son to smugglers who would transport him into Pakistan.
"Babak Tehrani was 16 and evading military service so he couldn't travel freely out of Iran. He expected to meet up with his parents and two brothers in Vienna, then travel with them to Los Angeles, where he would continue his studies and become a doctor.
"That was in 1994, and the Tehranis haven't seen him since.
"They are convinced their son was arrested and tortured as he tried to emigrate illegally through the flat desert near Zahedan. A former neighbor has testified he saw Babak in a notorious prison in Tehran, giving them hope he is alive.
"Imagine going 12 years not knowing where your son is - no news, no letters," Elana Tehrani said, brewing Persian tea in her Westside apartment. "How would you feel if you were in my situation?"
"This month, the Tehranis and six Iranian Jewish families living in Israel filed suit against former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, whom they hold responsible for the disappearance of 12 Iranian Jews between 1994 and 1997.
"Relatives believe the men, ages 15 to 60 when they disappeared, have been secretly incarcerated and tortured.
"It's a last hope," said Siamak Tehrani, the middle son, who was 14 when Babak vanished. "We've knocked on every door hoping one would work."
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