Iranian-Canadian activist dies in prison

Iranian Canadian environmentalist died in a Tehran prison on Friday his son said. Credit Seyed Emami

Iranian Canadian environmentalist died in a Tehran prison on Friday his son said. Credit Seyed Emami

Kavous Seyed-Emami, 63, a dual Canadian national environmentalist lost his life just two weeks after his arrest.

In a message on his Instagram story Mr. Seyed-Emami's son said he did not believe he had taken his own life.

"The news of my father's passing is impossible to fathom", he wrote. "I still can't believe this", Raam Seyed-Emami said. A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs told CBC News in an emailed statement that consular officials "are working to gather additional information and are providing assistance to the family of the Canadian citizen".

Seyed-Emami is the second Iranian-Canadian to die in prison in Iran following the murder of 54-year-old photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in 2003.

Tehran's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, had said on Saturday that a number of people active in the environmentalist field had been arrested, although he gave no names.

Prison authorities insist that three prisoners who died after they were arrested during nationwide street protests in December also committed suicide, although many Iranians have challenged those conclusions.

Their families, activists and lawyers have rejected this explanation and called for an independent investigation. Seyed-Emami had said he felt it was his duty to teach his opposing views.

"Nature was his passion".

The Iran Sociological Association, to which Seyed Emami belonged, questioned the government's official version of events.

'The information published about him is not believable, and we expect officials to respond and to provide the public with information concerning his death, ' it said.

Seyed-Emami presented a lecture to Lethbridge students in October, on ethnic identities and nationhood in Iran. "He was my friend and will be missed".

Activists say there have been other suspicious deaths among detainees that have been labelled as suicide.

Tajzadeh was himself held at Evin prison in Tehran for seven years. And one of his colleagues said Iran's academic community was in shock.

"The incomplete and vague information of the Tehran prosecutor added more questions".

Human rights groups outside the country have accused Iranian authorities of systematic abuses in prisons.

Seyed-Emami's arrest was not announced in Iran, and his death was not confirmed by official sources.

He had taught sociology for decades at Tehran's Imam Sadegh University, considered a hard-line institution where future leaders of the Iranian establishment are trained.

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