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.


Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

Updated 40 min 2 sec ago

Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

  • Glitch made users’ ID numbers, location, infection status vulnerable to hackers
  • More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for

DOHA: A security flaw in Qatar’s controversial mandatory coronavirus contact tracing app exposed sensitive information of more than one million users, rights group Amnesty International warned Tuesday.
The glitch, which was fixed on Friday after being flagged by Amnesty a day earlier, made users’ ID numbers, location and infection status vulnerable to hackers.
Privacy concerns over the app, which became mandatory for residents and citizens on pain of prison from Friday, had already prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions.
Users and experts had criticized the array of permissions required to install the app including access to files on Android devices, as well as allowing the software to make unprompted phone calls.
Despite insisting the unprecedented access was necessary for the system to work, officials said they would address privacy concerns and issued reworked software over the weekend.
“Amnesty International’s Security Lab was able to access sensitive information, including people’s name, health status and the GPS coordinates of a user’s designated confinement location, as the central server did not have security measures in place to protect this data,” the rights group said in a statement.
“While Amnesty International recognizes the efforts and actions taken by the government of Qatar to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to date, such as access to free health care, all measures must be in line with human rights standards.”
More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for the respiratory disease — 1.7 percent of the population — and 28 people have died.
Like other countries, Qatar has turned to mobiles to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor coronavirus infections and flag possible contagion.
“The Ehteraz app’s user privacy and platform security are of the utmost importance,” Qatar’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“A comprehensive update of the app was rolled out on Sunday May 24 with expanded security and privacy features for all users.”
But Etheraz, which means “Precaution,” continues to allow real-time location tracking of users by authorities at any time, Amnesty said.
“It was a huge security weakness and a fundamental flaw in Qatar’s contact tracing app that malicious attackers could have easily exploited,” said Claudio Guarnieri, head of the group’s security lab.
“The Qatari authorities must reverse the decision to make use of the app mandatory,” he said.