Canada presses Iran for details on death of Iranian-Canadian in Tehran jail

This handout photograph released on February 11, 2018 by the family of Iranian-Canadian environmentalist Kavous Seyed Emami shows him at an unidentified location. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Canada presses Iran for details on death of Iranian-Canadian in Tehran jail

OTTAWA: The Canadian government said on Tuesday it was “seriously concerned” with the circumstances surrounding the death of an Iranian-Canadian dual citizen in a Tehran prison, and that it was pressing Iran to provide details on what happened.
Kavous Seyed-Emami, an environmental activist and sociology professor, was arrested on Jan. 24 and died in prison, his son wrote on Twitter last week. Iran’s judiciary said on Sunday that Seyed-Emami, 63, had committed suicide.

“We are seriously concerned by the situation surrounding the detention and death of Mr. Seyed-Emami,” Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said in a statement.
“We expect the Government of Iran to provide information and answers into the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. We will continue to use every means at Canada’s disposal to seek further information.”
Seyed-Emami was the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, an organization aimed at protecting Iran’s rare animals, and a US-trained scholar in sociology.
He was arrested the same day as at least nine other staff members at his organization, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), a non-profit group based in New York.
Iran’s judiciary said Seyed-Emami was a defendant in a spying case and had committed suicide because of the weight of evidence against him, an Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.
He died in Tehran’s Evin prison, his son said.
Canada does not have an embassy in Iran. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been tense since an Iranian-Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, was beaten to death in prison in 2003 after she was detained while taking pictures.
Dozens of dual nationals are in jail in Iran, mostly on spying charges.


US has ‘no plan’ as Syria pullout proceeds: ex-envoy

Updated 10 min 5 sec ago
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US has ‘no plan’ as Syria pullout proceeds: ex-envoy

  • Former envoy Brett McGurk says the absence of a plan is increasing the risk to US forces
  • Trump announced the US withdrawal because, he said, Daesh had been defeated

WASHINGTON: The United States has no plan for Syria as it proceeds with President Donald Trump’s order to pull American troops out of the country, a top official who quit in protest at the policy said on Sunday.
Brett McGurk, who was America’s envoy to the US-led global coalition against the Daesh group, said “there’s no plan for what’s coming next” and this is increasing the risk to US forces.
He spoke in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” after a suicide bomber on Wednesday killed four Americans and 15 others in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. It was the deadliest attack to hit US troops since they deployed to Syria in 2014 to assist local forces against the Daesh group.
The bombing came after Trump’s announcement last month that he was ordering a full withdrawal of the 2,000 US troops from Syria, shocking allies and leading to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as well as McGurk.
Senior US officials have since given contradictory statements about US intentions, but the Pentagon said it had begun the withdrawal, although how long it would take remained uncertain.
“The president has made that clear — we are leaving. And that means our force should be really with one mission: to get out and get out safely,” McGurk told “Face the Nation.”
But he added: “Right now we do not have a plan. It increases a vulnerability of our force... It is increasing the risk to our people on the ground in Syria and will open up space for Daesh,” another acronym for IS.
Most importantly, said McGurk, the US cannot expect “a partner” such as NATO-ally Turkey to take the place of the United States.
“That is not realistic. And if our forces are under order to withdraw, as at the same time they are trying to find some formula for another coalition partner to come in, that is not workable. That is not a viable plan.”
Trump announced the US withdrawal because, he said, IS had been defeated — something McGurk and other experts dispute.
McGurk has previously warned that the US pullout would shore up Syria’s President Bashar Assad and lessen America’s leverage with Russia and Iran.