Iranian authorities have arrested a Canadian-Iranian professor of social anthropology, the latest in a string of cases involving dual nationals that has prompted concern over the country’s political atmosphere.
Homa Hoodfar was arrested earlier this week after nearly three months of repeated questioning by the Iranian Intelligence Service, her sister told the Guardian on Wednesday.
Hoodfar is the latest in the ever-expanding list of dual nationals targeted in recent months. Several Iranian dual nationals from the US, the UK, Canada, and France are currently behind bars or facing regular questioning, often accused of espionage or collaboration with a hostile government.
The 65-year-old scholar travelled to her home country in February, principally for personal reasons, but she also continued her academic research while in the country. Her trip coincided with parliamentary elections during which a record number of women were elected as MPs, most allied with the moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani.
In March members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards raided Hoodfar’s flat a day before she was due to fly to London, where she planned to join her family for the Persian New Year and the 70th birthday of her brother. The authorities confiscated her belongings and her three passports and summoned Hoodfar for questioning.
Hoodfar’s family chose not to go public until now because they believed the interrogations were the result of a misunderstanding and would soon end. However, according to her sister, Katayoon Hoodfar, “[Homa] was summoned to Evin Prison on Monday where she was told she would face yet another session of questioning, but instead she was detained."
“We are extremely worried for her health,” Hoodfar’s sister continued. “She suffers from a rare neurological illness; she often has very bad headaches.”
Hoodfar does not have any immediate family in Iran, and the Canadian embassy remains closed. Her lawyer and cousin were denied a family visit and were told that Hoodfar is banned from having visitors.