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Top Iranian Environmental Official Releases Video After News Of His Arrest

Kaveh Madani, deputy head of Iran's Department of Environment.
Kaveh Madani, deputy head of Iran's Department of Environment.

New twists in the case of a top Iranian environmental official added more mystery to the news about his possible arrest, reported on February 10.

In a February 12 post on his Instagram page, Kaveh Madani, the deputy chief of Iran’s Department of Environment, has expressed hope for resolving jailed Iranian environmentalists’ “problem,” and called for “transparency restoration of justice and an end to narrow-mindedness.”

The post did not mention anything about his arrest, reported by a member of parliament.

Madani, the DoE’s deputy chief for international affairs, innovation and social participation was reportedly arrested sometime on Saturday February 10 or Friday February 9.

However, in a video published on his Instagram page Monday afternoon (February 12), he says that he has “gone to work Monday morning.”

In the same video, he has hoped that other Environmental activists’ problem would be solved.

Madani’s social media pages were suspended on Sunday after the news of his arrest broke out. In the video, Madani said that he cannot access his social media pages including his Twitter account.

It is possible that he was briefly detained and then released.

Meanwhile the website of the Department of Environment Monday morning carried a picture which showed Madani accompanying DoE Chief Isa Kalantari at a meeting with the German ambassador in Tehran. According to the website, the meeting took place on Monday February 12.

Earlier, Iranian MP Mahmoud Sadeqi had quoted Kalantari as having said that Madani was under arrest. Sadeqi had said that seven other environmentalists were also in jail.

Kalantari has not reacted to any one of these reports yet.

Madani, a former lecturer at the Imperial College of London has been the Department of Environment’s deputy chief for international affairs and innovation since September 2017.

Madani was the deputy chairman of the Third UN Environment Forum’s Asia and Oceania group in Nairobi in November.

Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported some eight weeks ago that the European Union for Geo-Sciences has introduced Madani as one of Europe’s four top scientists in 2016.

Conflicting reports about Madani’s arrest followed the detention of several environmental activists in Iran during recent weeks and the controversial death in custody of one of them, Dr. Kavous Seyed-Emami.

Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) quoted Tehran Province Justice Administration Chief Gholamhossein Esmaili on February 10 as saying “A number of individuals who collected intelligence to hand over to foreigners have been arrested,” adding that “more arrests might be under way.”

Esmaili added that “more details about the case cannot be revealed as the investigation is at its initial stage.”

Earlier reports said other than Emami, two of his colleagues at the Asian Leopard project, namely Hooman Jokar and Morad Tahbaz, as well as Jokar’s wife, Niloofar Bayani were also arrested by security officials.

The web-based daily Keyhan of London reported that Bayani was a former UN consultant on environment.

Meanwhile secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani told reporters on Sunday “Security officials are conducting an investigation into suspicious activities of some NGOs working in the areas of health, environment, water and women,” although he said he did not know about the arrests.

In an interview with ILNA on Monday, former DoE chief and current vice-president for women’s affair, Massoumeh Ebtekar, said she would rather not to talk about the case although she was “extremely worried,’ she said.