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Australian-Iranian Population Expert Arrested in Iran

Australian-Iranian Population Expert Arrested in Iran

Monday, 10 December, 2018 - 11:45
Iranian riot police are seen on a street of Tehran in June 2009 (AFP Photo/STR)
Tehran - London - Asharq Al-Awsat
Iran has detained an Australian-based academic on charges of trying to “infiltrate” Iranian institutions, according to state media.

State news agency IRNA identified the detainee as population expert Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi who was held as she was leaving Iran.

Hosseini-Chavoshi is affiliated with the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health.

Population control became a sensitive issue in Iran when the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a decree in 2014 calling for a population increase after decades of state-promoted birth control.

In October, Khamenei called for greater efforts to combat enemy “infiltration” as tensions escalated with the United States after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran, according to Reuters.

Commenting on reports of detention of several experts advocating population curbs, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told reporters that authorities have arrested one person in this regard and are seeking three or four other people.

The judiciary’s news website Mizan quoted Ejei as saying “Everyone knows that the enemy is trying to infiltrate state bodies... and affect decision-making."

He added that foreign intelligence agencies stand behind many academic institutions, but some individuals who work there are not aware of that.

Last week, IRNA said there were reports that authorities had detained an Australian-based population expert on charges of trying to “infiltrate” state bodies in Iran.

IRNA quoted an attorney who named the detained woman as Hosseini-Chavoshi, and said that she did not have legal representation yet.

The agency quoted Kayhan as saying Hosseini-Chavoshi was detained by security forces in a drive against “enemy infiltration elements” as she was leaving Iran.

In 2017, Reuters reported that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had arrested at least 30 dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Among those held was British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality and does not routinely announce arrests or charges of dual nationals, whose rights to consular assistance are enshrined in the UN Vienna Convention.

In other news, police arrested 10 people Sunday in connection with the suicide attack in southeastern Iran that killed two police officers.

Separatist group “Ansar al-Furqan” has claimed responsibility for Thursday's assault in which an explosives-laden car was driven into a police station in Chabahar.

Authorities rejected this claim of responsibility for the attack, which also injured around 40 people.

Police chief Hossein Ashtari said 10 people had been arrested without giving any further details.

The group released a photo of the alleged suicide bomber on Saturday, identified as Bassim Abdullah Aziz, according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activities.

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