World

Shock at sudden death of environmentalist in Iranian prison

Shock at sudden death of environmentalist in Iranian prison

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

Environmental activist Seyed-Emami, 63, a dual national, was a sociology professor at Iran's Imam Sadegh University.

His son Raam Seyed Emami, a popular Iranian singer, tweeted on Saturday: 'The news of my father's passing is impossible to fathom.

The prosecutor said Seyed-Emami, also an environmentalist, was accused of espionage and committed suicide after confessing his crimes while in prison.

The death of Kavous Seyed-Emami, who was imprisoned by Iranian authorities in January, was reported by his son, Iranian musician Raam Emami, who said his mother was informed of Seyed-Emami's death on February 9. "I still can't believe this", Raam Seyed-Emami said. A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs told CBC News in an emailed statement that consular officials "are working to gather additional information and are providing assistance to the family of the Canadian citizen".

"He was one of the defendants in a spying case and unfortunately he committed suicide in prison since he knew that many had made confessions against him and because of his own confessions", Tehran's prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi told the semi-official ILNA news agency. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the United States is "aware of reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained in Iran".




The Iran Sociological Association, to which Seyed Emami belonged, questioned the government's official version of events.

"The information published about him is not believable and we expect officials to respond", it said in a statement. He was still active in the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, whose website describes its work as "public awareness campaigns and projects to protect endangered species in Iran".

Seyed-Emami presented a lecture to Lethbridge students in October, on ethnic identities and nationhood in Iran. He sponsored Seyed-Emami when he came to the southern Alberta post-secondary institution on sabbatical from about August to mid-December of a year ago.

There is now no Canadian embassy in Iran, which does not recognize dual nationality.

Seyed-Emami's death was not immediately reported in Iranian media amid nationwide rallies marking the 39th anniversary of the country's Islamic Revolution.

Some analysts see the arrests of the environmentalists as part of a wider confrontation between reformists and conservatives in the Iranian government on a range of economic and social issues, a rift that grew amid widesporead protests at the beginning of January.


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