Kaveh Madani, an expert on Iran’s dwindling water resources, fled the country in April after the Regime violently increased its crackdown on environmentalists and even arrested Madani. Thus, following his release, Madani resigned during a business trip to Bangkok and has remained in an undisclosed location outside Iran ever since.

Madani said: “The [Regime] won their battle against me. But they lost the bigger war with the people of Iran. If anything, they made me more popular. People could tell who’s really guilty, and who cares about their country… I realize that I’m lucky I’m not in prison, or dead.”

Earlier in the year, the mullahs had begun imprisoning dozens of scientists and activists on fake spying charges, which led to the suspicious death in custody of Kavous Seyed-Emami, co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation in Tehran.

Madani said: “I never thought the hardliners would get so nervous about environmental activism, like trying to save cheetahs… There are a lot of problems the government can deny. But the government cannot deny the air pollution in Tehran, or the dust storms in Khuzestan [in southwest Iran], or the deterioration of Lake Urmia.”

Madani, vice president of the United Nations Environmental Assembly, explained that the Iranian Regime concocted a conspiracy theory around his water bankruptcy fears and tried to turn the public against him with lies that he wanted to shut down the agricultural sector and import GMOs. They even called him a bioterrorist, as he tried to point out that the country was in real danger.

He said: “We’re past the crisis stage. It’s a water bankruptcy. Our demand and consumption are way higher than the available water.”

Madani, 36, returned to Iran to take up the position in September, but even upon arrival he was treated with suspicion by the Regime. He was detained and interrogated in Tehran, while the suppressive security forces confiscated several years’ worth of his photos and emails.

Madani, a former faculty member at Imperial College London, said: “I was under pressure for over 6 months, as they tried to prove I was a spy. They had copies of my Facebook account, all my emails. I never claimed to be a different person. I shave, I look differently, I speak differently. But I knew I wasn’t a spy. Getting rid of me, discrediting me, was their main goal.”