Iran arrests British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady

Kameel Ahmady, a renowned anthropologist, was arrested by police in Tehran on Sunday on unspecified allegations. (Photo/Kameel Ahmady Facebook account)
Updated 14 August 2019

Iran arrests British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady

  • A one-month temporary detention order has been issued against Ahmady
  • Ahmady has researched female genital mutilation and child marriage in Iran, among other subjects

LONDON: Iran has arrested a British-Iranian dual national, further threatening tensions between the UK and Tehran following the seizure of a British tanker last month.
Kameel Ahmady, a social anthropologist, was arrested on Sunday from his home in western Iran without any reason, his wife told BBC Persian.
Shafaq Rahmani claimed security agents came to their house and confiscated documents, including his ID card.
She said he had not been officially charged, but officials at Evin prison say he faces several charges related to his activities.
“They have not provided any information about the reason for the arrest or the charges against Kameel,” Rahmani wrote on Instagram.
According to a website affiliated with his name, Ahmady has researched female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriages and other issues related to gender, children and minorities in Iran, the Middle East and Africa.
Ahmady, who was born in Iranian Kurdistan but moved to Britain in his 20s, took global campaigners by surprise in 2015 when he published a study suggesting tens of thousands of Iranian women have undergone FGM.
The report called on the Iranian government to introduce laws on FGM, develop a national plan to end the practice and incorporate the issue into education and health programs.
“Iran doesn’t have a brilliant record when it comes to women’s rights and is very worried about destabilizing border areas,” Ahmady told the Reuters. “It doesn’t want a headache with these communities where its motives are generally not trusted.”
A spokesman for the Kurdistan Human Rights Network, who reported his arrest, said Ahmady has lived in Iran for many years, the BBC reported.
Rahmani also said Iranian authorities told her that a local judicial official, based at Evin Prison, had given Ahmady a temporary one-month detention court order.
Located in northern Tehran, Evin prison is notorious for keeping political prisoners, dissidents and dual Iranian nationals accused of plotting against the government since 1972, even before the Iranian revolution started.
They are held in a purpose-built wing nicknamed “Evin University” due to the number of intellectuals imprisoned there. The prison has been accused of committing “serious human rights abuses” against its political dissidents and critics of the government, according to the US government.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality.
Another British-Iranian national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in Iran in April 2016 at Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit. She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge she denies.
In May, the UK Foreign Office advised British-Iranian dual nationals not to travel to Iran out of fear they face an “intolerable risk of mistreatment” and arbitrary detention.
It came after British Council worker Aras Amiri was jailed for 10 years for spying, while visiting her grandmother.
The recent arrest comes amid heightened tension between Britain and Iran over the seizure of oil tankers.
The British territory of Gibraltar is holding an Iranian oil tanker seized by Royal Marines in the Mediterranean.
In retaliation Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps troops seized the British-flagged Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19.


Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

Updated 13 November 2019

Turkish police arrest journalist Altan a week after his release

  • Altan and the others deny the charges against them
  • On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing

ISTANBUL: Turkish police detained prominent journalist and author Ahmet Altan late on Tuesday, a week after he was released from prison in his retrial on coup-related charges, Istanbul police said.

Before his release last Monday, the 69-year-old had been in jail since his arrest in 2016, two months after an attempted coup which Ankara says was orchestrated by the network of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The journalist’s case has drawn criticism from human rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies. They are concerned by the scale of a post-coup crackdown against suspected Gulen supporters under President Tayyip Erdogan.

Altan smiled and waved as he was driven away by counter-terror squad police officers after being taken from his home in Istanbul, video and photos published by Turkish media showed.

He was taken to Istanbul police headquarters after a hospital check-up, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

Altan, his brother and other journalists were previously sentenced to life in jail for aiding Gulen’s network. Last week he was convicted again in a retrial, but released from jail given the time served.

Altan and the others deny the charges against them.

On Tuesday a higher court overruled the decision to release Altan, ordering his arrest on grounds that there was a risk of him fleeing, Anadolu reported.

Under last week’s verdict, Altan was sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail. Turkey’s high court had overruled the previous life sentences against him in July, sending the file back for re-trial.

Erdogan’s government has jailed more than 77,000 people pending trial since the failed putsch. Widespread arrests are still routine in a crackdown critics say demonstrates growing autocracy in Turkey.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, and his followers deny any involvement in the coup. Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to extradite the cleric.