British-Iranian academic jailed for 9 years in Iran for ‘subversive’ research

British-Iranian academic jailed for 9 years in Iran for ‘subversive’ research

A British-Iranian anthropologist has been sentenced to nine years in prison in Iran after he was convicted of carrying out “subversive” research.

Kameel Ahmady has also been fined £545,000, a sum which Iranian authorities allege he received for his work from institutions seeking to topple Iran’s Islamic government.

There was no immediate confirmation of the sentence from officials, but the verdict has been reported by other Iranian news agencies and human rights organisations.

“Ahmady was accused of acquiring illicit property from his cooperation in implementing subversive institutions’ projects in the country,” semi-official news agency Tasnim said.

Mr Ahmady, an ethnic Kurd who had researched controversial issues such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iran, was detained in August 2019 but released on bail three months later, according to human rights groups.

In a statement released via friends in the UK, he said: “In autumn 2019, contrary to all legal strictures and hope of fair judgment, I was subjected to 100 days of detention and extrajudicial interrogation without access to a lawyer.

“The judgment now handed down was issued after two non-expert court hearings in a legal process full of flaws.”

In the UK, his friends have been in regular contact with the Foreign Office and had been hoping he would not be given a lengthy sentence.

Mr Ahmady’s lawyer, Amir Raesian, said his client had received an eight-year sentence for “collaborating with a hostile government”.

“We will present an appeal request against this ruling and we are still hopeful,” he said on Twitter.

The reason for the apparent discrepancy about the length of Mr Ahmady’s sentence was not immediately clear.

A UK Foreign Office spokesperson told The Independent:  “We are urgently seeking more information from the Iranian government about reports that Kameel Ahmady, a dual British national, has been sentenced. We remain deeply concerned about all our dual British nationals detained in Iran.”

After Mr Ahmady’s arrest, his wife told the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran that his work was independent and published with government approval.

Human rights activists have accused Iran of arresting dozens of dual nationals such Mr Ahmady to try to win concessions from other countries.

In the most prominent case, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian aid worker, has spent more than four years in jail and house arrest in Iran over spying allegations she has always denied.

In November 2020 she was taking to a Revolutionary Court in Tehran on new charges of “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

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