The family of a Canadian-Iranian professor detained in Iran says she is being held in a notorious prison in Tehran without any known charges after months of interrogations.
Homa Hoodfar, 65, an anthropologist at Montréal's Concordia University, was first questioned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on March 10 as she was preparing to leave the country, her family says. Hoodfar, who specializes in gender issues in Muslim societies, was in Iran to conduct research during its most recent election, which saw a record number of women elected, according to a press release from the family.
Her niece, Amanda Ghahremani, told BuzzFeed News that after daily questioning, Hoodfar was summoned to the notorious Evin prison on March 14, where she was detained but then released on bail. Over the following three months, though, the Counter Intelligence Unit continued to summon Hoodfar for "numerous lengthy and grueling interrogations," her family said in the release.
Ghahremani said on Friday that her aunt was detained again at Envin on June 6 — this time without the option for bail.
Hoodfar's family say they are unsure why she was imprisoned and whether any charges have been laid. Neither her family nor her lawyer have been able to talk to her.
The CBC reported that Iran has accused Hoodfar of "co-operating with a foreign state against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Though the CBC report said the family was told by the Canadian government to keep quiet about the case, Ghahremani said her family decided on its own to not go public right away, a decision Global Affairs Canada supported.
Ghahremani said her family was initially confident that Iranian officials "would come to the only reasonable conclusion that there's really no case" against Hoodfar. "But after this detention, the fact that we don't know what the charges are, the fact that her lawyer has not had access to her, we had no choice but to go public with this case," Ghahremani said.
In an email to BuzzFeed News, Global Affairs Canada said the Canadian government "is actively engaged on this case" and working with its allies "in order to best assist Dr. Hoodfar."
Spokesperson Rachna Mishra said Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has met with Hoodfar's family and that other officials remain in close touch.
"Privacy considerations prevent the Department from discussing Government of Canada involvement in further detail, however rest assured that this case is a priority for us," Mishra said.
Concordia says it has spoken with Global Affairs and offered to help the Canadian government as needed.
In a statement Thursday, university President Alan Shepard said he was "profoundly concerned" about the situation. He said Hoodfar is a professor emeritus with "a distinguished academic record," and that many of her colleagues and friends are worried.
"At the same time, I am encouraged by the news that Global Affairs Canada is working through diplomatic channels to address this situation," Shepard said.
Hoodfar's family say they are especially concerned about her health. They say she suffers from a neurological disease and fear she hasn't had access to her medication.
"At 65 years old, Professor Hoodfar’s health is of great concern to her family, especially because she suffered a mild stroke last year," her family said in the release.
Emma Loop is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. PGP fingerprint: 4A39 DD99 953C 6CAF D68C 85CD C380 AB23 859B 0611.
Contact Emma Loop at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.