Two Academics Who Held Australian Postings Detained, Summoned in Iran
At Least Four Academics and One Scientist With Foreign Ties Detained in Iran Since 2016
*Editor’s Note: This article was corrected on December 6, 2018, to reflect that Mohammad Jalal Abbasi was summoned, not detained.
One Iranian demography expert who has held academic postings in Australia has been detained in Iran since being arrested by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in November 2018 while her colleague has been summoned, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
It’s not clear whether the female detainee, Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, is also an Australian citizen, which would make her a dual national as some Iranian media outlets have reported, but a LinkedIn page in her name lists Hosseini-Chavoshi as based in the Australian capital of Canberra.
It also notes that she worked at the University of Melbourne as well as the Ministry of Health and Education of Iran.
According to IRGC-affiliated media outlets, Hosseini-Chavoshi was arrested while a second academic, initially identified as “M. A.,” was summoned on an unknown date in November.
Some Iranian media outlets have now identified M. A. as Mohammad Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi, who has held multiple academic postings in Iran as well as one in Australia, according to a LinkedIn page in his name.
The page also describes him as a Laureate of the 2011 United Nations Population Award.
The two, both accomplished in their field, co-authored a book in 2009 titled, the Fertility Transition in Iran.
“As far as I know, Hosseini-Chavoshi has not picked a lawyer yet,” attorney Mahmoud Behzadi told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency on December 2.
Behzadi added that Hosseini-Chavoshi has been told to pick her lawyer from a list of 20 who have been allowed by the judiciary to represent clients held on “national security” related charges.
IRNA did not clarify whether Behzadi is representing the two academics.
On December 1, the IRGC-affiliated Mashreg news agency reported that Hosseini-Chavoshi has been accused of “social espionage” for allegedly passing on “sensitive information” to Iran’s enemies. The report provided no evidence to substantiate the claims.
At least three other academics and one scientist with ties to foreign countries have been imprisoned in Iran since 2016.
Iranian Canadian academic Homa Hoodfar was held for four months in Iran’s Evin Prison in June 2016 before being released in September.
In August 2017, an Iranian Appeals Court upheld a 10-year prison sentence against Princeton University academic Xiyue Wang, who had been held since the summer of 2016 on unspecified espionage charges shrouded in secrecy by judicial officials.
Iranian Swedish scientist Ahmadreza Djalali is also currently jailed in Iran waiting for the result of the review request his lawyers filed for the death sentence that was issued to him in October 2017, also for alleged espionage crimes.
Iranian Canadian academic and environmentalist Kavous Seyed-Emami died in February 2018 under suspicious circumstances while being held for interrogations in Iran’s Evin Prison. No one has been held accountable for his death.