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Travel Ban Extended For Widow Of Ecologist Who Died Murky Death In Prison

Iranian-Canadian professor and environmental expert Kavous Seyed-Emami and his wife Maryam Mombeini pose in an unidentified place in Iran, undated

Iranian authorities have extended a travel ban on the wife of a prominent ecologist who died under suspicious circumstances while in prison.

Maryam Mobeini, the Iranian-Canadian widow of the late ecologist and professor Kavous Seyyed-Emami, also a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen, was stopped at Tehran’s airport by plainclothes Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) agents last March when she attempted to board a plane bound for Vancouver via Frankfurt with her two adult sons, Mehran and Ramin.

Her sons left to Canada, but Mobeini was told she could not leave the country and her passport was seized, Ramin Seyyed-Emami said, adding that before they parted, she told her sons, “I just want you guys to be safe and away from this horrible place. Don’t ever come back."

Mobeini’s attorney, Payam Derafshan, told the Iranian official news agency (IRNA) February 18 that the order barring her client from leaving the country has been extended. He did not elaborate on when this decision was taken and the duration of the ban.

Mobeini’s husband, Kavous Seyyed-Emami, was arrested in January 2018 along with eight other Iranian ecologists and environmental activists and jailed at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison in a cell block managed by IRGC intelligence agents. Two weeks later, his family was informed he had hanged himself in the prison bathrooms. His family reject this explanation and demand a full investigation into his death.

The other eight environmentalists charged with espionage are now on trial in Tehran. Four are accused of “sowing corruption on earth,” a charge that can carry the death sentence in Iran.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi has claimed the activists were “seeking proximity to military sites with the cover of environmental projects and obtaining military information from them.”

A source close to Mobeini and her family says agents recently forced their way into her home and pressured her to make false statements about her late husband on camera while denying her access to a lawyer.

On March 19, 2018, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement expressing Ottawa's concern over the fate of Mrs. Mobeini.

“We continue to call on Iranian authorities to immediately give Maryam Mombeini, a Canadian citizen, the freedom to return home…We will continue to demand answers from the government of Iran on the circumstances surrounding the detention and death of Maryam Mombeini’s husband, Kavous Seyed-Emami.”

Islamic Republic authorities have yet to respond to Canada’s demands.