Amnesty International has added its voice to pressure Iran to free Montreal professor Homa Hoodfar from Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison.
Hoodfar, 65, was taken to the prison earlier this week and is being held incommunicado with no access to her family, lawyers and medication to treat a serious neurological disorder.
In calling for her release, Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, described Hoodfar as a “prisoner of conscience.”
Amnesty’s call came as back-channel diplomatic negotiations to free her continue.
Canadian Foreign Affairs says it remains unsure of why Hoodfar was arrested.
However, there is speculation she is being used to pressure Canada to hand over a former banker, Mahmoud Reza Khavari, who fled to Canada in 2011 while facing an investigation into a $2.6 billion embezzlement and money laundering scandal.
Hoodfar was first arrested in March and accused of “co-operating with a foreign state against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
After posting bond, she was confined to Iran and barred from talking to her family or a lawyer.
Hoodfar, who holds both Canadian and Iranian passports, is a professor of anthropology at Montreal’s Concordia University and a world expert on sexuality and gender in Islam.
The case evokes haunting memories of the case of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photographer who was killed in Evin Prison in 2003.
Iran does not recognize dual nationalities and a number of nationals, including people with French, British and U.S. passports have been arrested because of alleged security issues.