Middle East studies in the News
Iranian-Canadian Professor Homa Hoodfar Freed by Iran
DUBAI—Iran on Monday released an Iranian-Canadian academic imprisoned since June, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, a rare reprieve for one of the numerous dual-nationals it has arrested since last year.
Homa Hoodfar, an anthropology professor at Montreal's Concordia University specializing in Muslim women and the Middle East, was released on humanitarian grounds including poor physical health, spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The 65-year-old's health had been in decline throughout her detention. Ms. Hoodfar suffers from a chronic autoimmune condition aggravated by stress, according to Amnesty International, which has advocated for her release.
Ms. Hoodfar flew to Canada via Oman, Mr. Ghasemi said. He didn't elaborate on the case against her or whether political efforts played any role in her release.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Ms. Hoodfar's release in a statement and said she would soon be reunited with her family.
The country "has been actively and constructively engaged at the highest levels in Dr. Hoodfar's case—since her ordeal began—working for her release and return to Canada," he said.
Canada doesn't have diplomatic representation in Iran, but its government worked closely with Oman, Italy and Switzerland, who were instrumental in securing her release, Mr. Trudeau said.
Ms. Hoodfar's friends and colleagues at Concordia said Monday was an "extraordinary" day at the campus for those who worked and lobbied for her release over the last few months.
"I suspect she's not in good health—but she's free and she's out of Iran and will get medical care," Marguerite Mendell, the university's head of graduate studies for community and public affairs, said at a press conference. "Today is a day to rejoice and celebrate."
The professor was initially interrogated by Iranian authorities during a visit to see family in March, according to supporters who set up a website to urge for her release. Her belongings were seized, and she wasn't allowed to leave the country.
In June, she was taken to Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, which has a wing housing high-profile political detainees. Authorities accused her of "dabbling in feminism and security matters," according to her supporters. It didn't release further details on what the charges entailed.
Amnesty International said earlier this month that Iranian authorities told Ms. Hoodfar's lawyer she was being accused of spreading propaganda against the Iranian system and collaborating with hostile governments.
Ms. Hoodfar is one of several Iranian dual citizens detained in the past year, some of whom have been accused of espionage. Iran doesn't recognize dual citizenship, considering such nationals to be only Iranian.
Detentions and trials have continued despite political rapprochement between Iran and the West. Iran reached a deal last year with six world powers, including the U.S., to put curbs on its disputed nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Among the high-profile recent detainees in custody is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker arrested in April and accused of spying. Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced this month to five years in prison, according to her family.
—Paul Vieira in Ottawa contributed to this article.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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