Kavous Seyed Emami, a 63-year-old Iranian-Canadian environmental activist, died in prison in Tehran. Authorities claim Emami committed suicide; however, his family has asked for an independent autopsy.
On January 11, 2018, Chief Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said that Emami was part of a group of environmental activists arrested on suspicion of espionage. He was detained by authorities on January 24.
Emami taught sociology at the Imam Sadegh University in Tehran, an elite institution set up after the Islamic revolution in part to train officials. He was also the managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, an officially recognized NGO.
"If we don't hear much international protest in the next 48 hours, the Iranian government's going to literally get away with murder," Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, said. According to Ghaemi, Canada has the ability to lead an international campaign to pressure Iran, possibly through the United Nations.
Emami is the second Iranian-Canadian dual national to die in Iranian prison. In 2003 Zahra Kazemi, 54, was beaten to death after being arrested for taking photographs outside Evin Prison.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide calls for letters, faxes, and emails urging the Iranian authorities to investigate the situation, to explain publicly the circumstances that led to Professor Emami’s death, and to hold the institutions involved in this painful loss accountable.