Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Homa Hoodfar was arrested after nearly three months of repeated questioning. Iran does not recognise dual nationality, and treats detainees only as Iranian, depriving them of consular access.
Iranian authorities have arrested a Canadian-Iranian professor of social anthropology, the latest in a string of cases involving dual nationals which has prompted concern over the country’s political atmosphere.
Homa Hoodfar was arrested earlier this week after nearly three months of repeated questioning by the Iranian intelligence service, her sister told the Guardian on Wednesday.
Hoodfar is the latest in the ever-expanding list of dual nationals targeted in recent months. Several Iranian dual nationals from the US, the UK, Canada and France are currently behind bars or facing regular questioning, often accused of espionage or collaborating with a hostile government.
The 65-year-old scholar travelled to her home country in February, principally for personal reasons, but she also continued her academic research while in the country, her family said. Her trip coincided with parliamentary elections during which a record number of women were elected as MPs, mostly allied with the moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani.
In March, members of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards raided Hoodfar’s flat a day before she was due to fly to London, where she planned to join her family for the Persian new year and the 70th birthday of her brother. The authorities confiscated her belongings and her three passports, and summoned Hoodfar for regular questioning.
Hoodfar’s family had chosen not to go public until now because they believed the interrogations were the result of a misunderstanding and would soon end, according to her sister, Katayoon Hoodfar. “[Homa] was summoned to Evin prison on Monday where she was told she would face yet another session of questioning but instead she was detained,” she said.
“We are extremely worried for her health,” Hoodfar’s sister said. “She suffers from a rare neurological illness; she often has very bad headaches.” Hoodfar does not have any immediate family in Iran and the Canadian embassy remains closed. Hoodfar’s lawyer and cousin have been denied a family visit, Katayoon Hoodfar said, and were told that she is banned from having any visitors.
Iran does not recognise dual nationality, and treats detainees only as Iranian, depriving them of consular access.
Hoodfar has repeatedly travelled to Iran in the past but the illness of her husband, who died last year, prevented her from travelling there more recently. Hoodfar’s family believe that she has been arrested by the Revolutionary Guards, which act independently of Rouhani’s government and has sought to undermine his administration on various occasions.
Canada, under the previous Conservative government, abruptly closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Canada in September 2012. Relations between Canada and Iran had been strained for years, much of the tension stemming from the torture and death of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi in 2003.