Brit facing jail in Iran ESCAPES Revolutionary Guard and treks 300 miles through mountains to safety
Author: Christy Cooney
11:38 ET, Feb 3 2021 Updated: 14:07 ET, Feb 3 2021
A BRITISH academic who was facing almost ten years in an Iranian jail has escaped by trekking for miles through the mountains along the country’s border to safety.
Kameel Ahmady had been released on bail following a conviction last year for purportedly collaborating with a hostile government.
British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady fled Iran after being sentenced to almost ten years in prisonCredit: Facebook
Ahmady kept the route secret but it is believed he crossed into either Turkey or Iraq
Ahmady was arrested in August 2019 when he answered the door to someone claiming to be a postman and was met by 16 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
He was then taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, where Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has also been held.
In December last year, a court sentenced Ahmady to a total of nine years and three months.
As well as working with a foreign government, the charges against him included visiting Israel and promoting homosexuality.
While out on bail in December, he decided to flee by trekking on foot through the mountainous region along Iran’s border with Iraq and Turkey.
The routes are most often used by smugglers bringing in alcohol, cigarettes, and other goods hard to find in Iran because of US-imposed sanctions.
The paths can be hazardous, with some smugglers reportedly being shot by border guards or freezing to death along the route.
It is not clear precisely how much of the 300 miles between Tehran and the Iranian border Ahmady had to walk, but it is thought to have taken him weeks to complete the entire journey.
Speaking to the Guardian, Ahmady, who is now in London, said he felt he had no choice but to risk the journey.
“I smuggled myself out of Iran out of despair,” he said.
“I was banned from travelling. I had this bounty and this sentence.
“I am Kurdish by ethnicity and I know some of the routes, but it was very dangerous. I had to try several times.”
‘WE CAN BARGAIN WITH YOU’
Ahmady was born in the town of Naghadeh in western Iran.
He left the country aged 18 and came to the UK, attending the University of Kent and the London School of Economics before securing British citizenship, and is now a dual national.
He returned to Iran in 2010 to care for his elderly father and began working as an anthropologist.
Ahmady says he believes he was targeted because of his research, which focuses on issues including female genital mutilation and child marriage.
He has previously campaigned for a rise in the age at which girls are allowed to marry, currently 13, and is thought to have angered hardline religious figures within Iran.
The arrest is also thought to have been part of a retaliation after the UK seized an Iranian oil tanker that had violated EU sanctions off Gibraltar in July 2019.
Ahmady told the Guardian that, when he was in prison, his chief interrogator told him: “Kameel you are delicious.
“First you are a Kurd, second thing you come from Sunni background, most importantly you are British and researching sensitive subjects.
“We can bargain with you. You know how it works.”
Ahmady now plans to settle in the UK, and says he hopes to became a voice for minority groups and the dispossessed within Iran while promoting dialogue between Iran and the West.
Ahmady first came to the UK as a student aged 18 Credit: Facebook
The journey out of Iran took him through the mountainous region along the country’s borders with Iraq and Turkey Credit: Getty Images – Getty
News Link : The-sun