Kavous Seyed-Emami, A university lecturer and a Canadian-Iranian environmental activist, has died while in custody at a Tehran prison.
Dr Emami’s son, Ramin, on February 10 twitted the news of his father’s death, adding that prison officials have said that he has committed “suicide.”
The news coincided with an announcement by Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi on the same day about the detention of “a number” of environmental activists on charges of “espionage in the area of environment.”
“Those under arrest were collecting classified strategic information under the cover of scientific environmental projects,” charged Dolatabadi.
The prosecutor did not mention the death of one of the inmates in custody, but added that the activists were arrested by “an intelligence organization.”
Dr Kavous Emami was a sociologist and a lecturer at Tehran’s Imam Sadeq University. He was also the managing director of a wildlife protection institute in Tehran.
Dr Emami’s son’s tweet further stated that he was arrested on 24 January, and that the Prosecutor’s Office summoned Emami’s wife on Friday February 9, broke the news of her husband’s death, explaining, “He has committed suicide.”
Ramin Seyed-Emami said in his tweet that he cannot believe that his father has taken his own life.
London’s Keyhan newspaper has published more details on February 9 about the arrests disclosing that two of Emami’s colleagues at his wildlife protection institute have also been detained.
According to Keyhan, Hooman Jokar who leads the institute’s Asian leopard project, and Morad Tahbaz, an environment and cultural heritage protection activist and a Iranian American dual citizen, are also among those detained by Iranian security forces.
Niloofar Bayani, Jokar’s wife and a former UN environment adviser is also among the inmates, Keyhan of London reported.
The daily wrote that officials have denied the inmates their right to have legal representation and meet with their family members. Keyhan added that the inmates’ computers have been confiscated and security officers have searched their homes and those of some of their friends and relatives.
The three were arrested after IRGC-linked news agency Tasnim had criticized the Iranian Environment Agency for holding a meeting with Tahbaz, while portraying him as an international businessman who has worked in Israel and the United States.
Several dual nationals are in jail in Iran, including the Iranian American Baqer Namazi and his son Siamak, and Iranian Swedish citizen Ahmad Reza Jalali whose death sentence has been recently over-ruled by the Iranian Supreme Court.
Iranian prison officials have recently stated “suicide” as the cause of death of some imprisoned activists who were arrested during the early January protests.
International human rights organizations have demanded independent investigation of the alleged suicides.