News : Human rights
- Published: Thursday, 06 December 2018
By INU Staff
INU- A Melbourne University academic was arrested in Iran and accused of "social espionage" and "collaborating" with the West.
Population expert Dr Meimanat Hosseini Chavoshi, an Australian-Iranian dual national, was on a study tour in Tehran when she was arrested.
She is one of a growing number of dual-national academics being held in Iran on spying charges that can carry the death penalty.
Some of Dr Hosseini Chavoshi’s work focused on the Iranian Government's population control policies, which have long been a subject of debate in Iran. The Regime had implemented strict population control policies that led to a massive drop in the birth rate, but this was reversed five years ago.
Swedish-based fellow academic and Iranian national Maysam Behravesh said: "Population increase at a time when we have a huge environmental crisis inside Iran when the economy is not stable when the country is under sanctions — there are so many problems. And people like Chavoshi, in that context; people like her are not very welcome."
A University of Melbourne spokesperson said that Dr Hosseini-Chavoshi's detention was "deeply concerning".
It is unclear when Dr Hosseini Chavoshi will face trial.
At least 13 other dual national academics are being held in Iran, with many more being held in secret. Behravesh said that he knows three people, aside from Dr Hosseini Chavoshi, who were held in Iranian prisons and that one of them is now dead.
Here he is referring to Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, an Iranian-Canadian conservationist arrested in January and accused of espionage along with eight other environmental activists. The Regime blamed his death in February on suicide, but Behravesh disputes this.
He said: "He had plans, he had a life to live, and he was arranging stuff, and all of a sudden, I was just shocked when I heard about his death in prison."
Also this week, six families of dual and foreign nationals imprisoned in Iran published a joint open letter accusing the Iranian Regime of “hostage taking”, advising that this is “not an individual problem, [but] a pattern".
While conservationists and scholars around the world sent an open letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader calling for the detained environmentalists to have a fair trial and access to lawyers of their choice.
Earlier this year, the Iranian Regime changed the law so that people charged with national security crimes could only pick from a list of 20 Regime-approved lawyers, which is a violation of international law and stacks the deck firmly in the favour of the Regime.
Arrests of dual-nationals on spurious charges is part of Iran's foreign policy, with the intelligence wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), trying to reduce contact between Iran and the outside world to hide the malign activities of the Regime
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