Detained Iranian-Canadian Activist Reportedly Dies In Tehran Prison

Kavous Seyed Emami

An Iranian-Canadian dual citizen and environmental activist imprisoned by Iranian authorities last month has died in prison, his son wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Along with Seyed-Emami and other board members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a hunter-businessman named Morad Tahbaz was also arrested.

The Iran Sociology Association, of which Seyed-Emami was a member, also questioned the official cause of death.

"Tehran's prosecutor said those individuals, in the context of implementing scientific and environmental projects, sought to collect information ... on the country's strategic areas", a report by the state-run IRNA news agency said, without elaborating.

"Some people who collected and transferred information to strangers were identified and some were arrested, and some might be arrested in the future", he reportedly said.

Ramin said his father's death "is impossible to fathom". They say he committed suicide. "I still can't believe this", Ramin, a well-known singer, said.

One opposition figure inside Iran, Ali Shakourirad, said Seyed Emami's death had "created a wave of questions".

Iranian authorities had never announced Seyed-Emami's arrest, and his death was not confirmed by official sources.

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"Some of them refused to comment, some others said we pursued (but) failed to get information", the lawmaker wrote.

The case recalls that of Homa Hoodfar, a 65-year-old retired anthropology professor from Montreal, who was detained in Iran in for several months in 2016 and indicted on unknown charges. "I think any of the number of us who had the occasion to meet him while he was over here are all feeling like it's a very big loss, he's a fine person", he said. At least 25 people were killed in clashes.

Iranian-Canadian photographer died in Iran's infamous Evin prison in 2003, leading to an escalation of tensions between the two countries.

Ghaemi said Seyed-Emami was a founder of the group, which he called "the leading environmental NGO in Iran", and he was detained along with almost a dozen other members. A United Nations panel in September described "an emerging pattern involving the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of dual nationals" in Iran, which Tehran denies.

The death of an Iranian-Canadian professor in Iran points to a pattern of the country's judicial authorities targeting dual nationals, according to the head of a non-profit agency that promotes human rights in Iran.

He wrote that the authorities said his 63-year-old father had committed suicide. Iranian-American art dealer Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife, Afarin Neyssari, recently received 27-year and 16-year prison sentences respectively.

He is also listed as managing director of the which works to protect threatened wildlife in Iran.

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