The Tehran prosecutor on Tuesday accused a prominent environmentalist, whose recent “suicide” in prison is controversial, to have been part of a spying network set up by the US and Israeli intelligence services.
Kavous Seyed Emami, a renowned Iranian-Canadian scholar and director of the Persian Wildlife Foundation, was buried on Tuesday in the village of Ammameh, 40 km north of Tehran.
Officials say he committed suicide in his prison cell after his arrest and that of seven members of his foundation, but his family and academics dispute this version.
According to Tehran’s prosecutor, Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, the NGO was founded “about a decade ago” to mask “classified information in the defense and missile sector”.
The suspects in this case, under the direction of CIA and Mossad intelligence officers, conducted a threefold mission focused on the environment, infiltrating the scientific community and collecting information from sensitive and vital [activities] centers, including on the bases of missiles.
Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, Tehran prosecutor, quoted by Mizan Online
According to Mr. Jafari-Dolatabadi, Kavous Seyed Emami was one of the main contacts of US intelligence agents and had hosted one of the officials.
He accused members of this network of having “installed cameras in strategic areas, under cover of environmental observation, when in fact they observed the activities of missiles in this country.”
Ottawa “seriously worried”
“A Canadian is dead. We are waiting for the government of Iran to provide information and answers on the circumstances surrounding this tragedy, “said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Tuesday night. “We are seriously concerned about the situation surrounding the detention and death of Mr. Seyed Emami,” she added in a written statement.
The Tehran prosecutor also claimed that the main financial support of this network was an Irish-British-American citizen, with the initials MT, probably referring to Morad Tahbaz, a rich businessman and member of the Foundation for Wildlife Persian, who was arrested last month.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality and denies binational consular services.
An autopsy on the body of Kavous Seyed Emami took place Monday, after a request to this effect from his family and colleagues who have doubts about the hypothesis of suicide.
“In all cases of suspicious death, an autopsy takes place,” said Payam Derafshan, a family lawyer, adding that the body had been returned to the family.
He claims to have seen a video shot in Mr. Emami’s cell, which the authorities give as evidence of his suicide. “Because there is not a good angle […], the act of suicide is not clear,” he told the agency Ilna.
The ecologist was arrested on January 24 and his family was informed Friday of his alleged suicide in prison.
According to him, the video shows prison guards discovering Mr. Emami’s body and trying to revive him.
“It is very important to know why he was forced to end his life, and the reason for this act must be clearly given,” added the family lawyer.
Ramin, son of Seyed Emami, said on Instagram that the family had filed a complaint about the death of his father.