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Iranian-Canadian environmentalist's death in prison raises questions

12 February 2018

An academic who knew Mr Seyed-Emami told AFP news agency the Iranian academic community was "in shock".

Their families, rights groups and lawyers have rejected the explanations of their deaths and demanded an independent investigation.

"Canadian consular officials in Ankara are working to gather additional information and are providing assistance to the family of the Canadian citizen", said the spokeswoman, Natasha Nystrom.

Prison authorities insist that three prisoners who died after they were arrested during nationwide street protests in December also committed suicide, although many Iranians have challenged those conclusions. "Why doesn't the judiciary give out information in time and transparently?" he wrote. The interrogators and the judicial authorities are directly responsible for prisoners' lives.

The professor's son, musician Ramin Seyed-Emami who performs under the stage name King Raam, wrote on Instagram that his father had died following his arrest on January 24. "I still can't believe this", Ramin, a well-known singer, said.

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Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi later confirmed the professor's death on Sunday, saying he had been detained in an alleged espionage ring. "He lived a simple life that was connected to nature and that's why he was an inspiring man. People could see this was what he believed and he lived that way too".

Kavous Seyed Emami was arrested on Wednesday 24 January 2018, and the news of his death was released to my mom, Maryam, on Friday the 9th of February.

An Iranian official in Tehran said more arrests were expected in connection with Seyed-Emami's organization.

"They were gathering classified information in strategic areas.under the coverage of scientific and environmental projects", he said, without giving further information.

CHRI has learned that on the same day as Seyed-Emami's arrest, at least nine other staff members and executives of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation were also taken into custody in Tehran, according to a relative of one of the detainees who asked not to be identified.

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Iran does not recognize dual nationality and treats those arrested as Iranian citizens.

That case weighed on Iranian-Canadian relations for years. In 2003 Zahra Kazemi, 54, was beaten to death after being arrested for taking photographs outside Evin prison.

Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, so those detainees can not receive consular assistance.

Iranian officials claimed Ghanbari (23) and Vahid Heydari (22)-both of whom died in custody after being arrested in the recent protests-were drug addicts.

Mahmoud Sadeghi, an outspoken lawmaker, had claimed a 23-year-old protester named Sina Ghanbari died in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, but the judiciary said he was a drug-trafficker who had committed suicide.

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He also said that the two countries should continue close cooperation and consultation to help the North make the right decision. According to Pence's office, there was "no interaction" between the USA vice president and the North Korean officials.

He wrote that the authorities said his 63-year-old father had committed suicide. Heydari's family has been pressured to avoid speaking to the media. Photo of Kavous Seyed-Emami courtesy of CHRI.

Iranian-Canadian environmentalist's death in prison raises questions