Leading academics in Iran have written to the country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, to demand answers after a renowned environmentalist allegedly killed himself in prison.
The family of Kavous Seyed Emami, 63, a professor at Imam Sadegh University and founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, was told on Saturday that he had killed himself in prison two weeks after his arrest.
A judiciary official said on Sunday that he had confessed to crimes related to an espionage investigation. Seven other members of his wildlife NGO are still behind bars.
“The news of the death of Dr Kavous Seyed Emami has astounded and shocked the scientific community and the environmental activists of the country,” four academic societies wrote in an open letter to Rouhani.
“In addition to being a well-known professor, a distinguished scientist and war veteran … he was a noble and ethical human being,” the letter said. “The news and rumours related to his arrest and death are not believable.”
The letter was published by four leading associations in areas of political science, sociology, peace studies and cultural studies, which include professors from Iran’s top universities.
They wrote: “Our minimum expectation is that you take immediate and effective action to seriously investigate the case … and make the institutions involved in this painful loss accountable.”
Asked about the case on Monday, the judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie told the reformist ILNA news agency: “I have heard he committed suicide, but I have so far no information on the details. This recent incident is under investigation.”
The environment department denied rumours that its deputy head, Kaveh Madani, had been arrested. The reformist MP Mahmoud Sadeghi had tweeted on Sunday that the department had told him Madani had been arrested over the weekend.
A senior official at the department, who did not wish to be named, said on Monday that this was incorrect and that Madani was at work.
A tweet was published on Madani’s personal Twitter account early on Monday for the first time in three days. “Hopeful for narrowmindness to get wiped out. Hopeful for peace of mind for environmental activists. Hopeful for the removal of concern of those awaiting the return of loved ones,” it read.
Source » theguardian