Iran Releases Homa Hoodfar, Canadian Professor Accused of ‘Dabbling in Feminism’

Hoodfar had been imprisoned for more than 100 days.

by Tamara Khandaker
26 September 2016, 8:05pm

Demonstrators rally for Homa Hoodfar's release in Montreal on Sept. 21, 2016. Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian university professor who was imprisoned in Iran for over 100 days, charged with "collaboration with a hostile government" and accused of "dabbling in feminism," has been released on humanitarian grounds, according to an Iranian news report.

"Canadians are relieved that Dr. Hoodfar has been released from jail and will soon be reunited with her family, friends, and colleagues," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Monday. Trudeau said the government had been "actively and constructively engaged at the highest levels in Dr. Hoodfar's case—since her ordeal began—working for her release and return to Canada."

Hoodfar, 65, had been jailed since June in the notorious Evin prison, and was hospitalized last week. A press release from her family said Hoodfar was "disoriented, severely weakened, and could hardly walk or talk."

Although she suffers from a neurological condition that causes muscle weakness, requests for a checkup from a specialist had been ignored, and it was unclear whether Hoodfar, who was being held in solitary confinement, was receiving her medication, her family said in the statement last week.

Hoodfar is a feminist anthropologist at Montreal's Concordia University, and had published work about Islam and women in the Middle East. She'd been visiting family in Iran following her husband's death when she was arrested, and was subsequently charged with collaborating with a hostile government against national security and propaganda against the state, each of which carried a maximum sentence of ten years in jail.

But according to her family, her lawyer never had access to her case files and was not allowed to discuss the case with her.

According to a source who spoke to the Huffington Post, the professor had been found guilty, sentenced to several years in prison, and ordered deported. The source said she'd landed in Oman, which had helped secure her release, and would be met there by Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia. After a medical exam, she will board a flight to London, where she'll be reunited with her family.

Canada has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since 2012, when former Prime Minister Stephen Harper expelled all Iranian diplomats from the country. The Trudeau government has been in talks to renew ties with Tehran.

"In the absence of diplomatic representation of its own in Iran, Canada worked closely with others who were instrumental in helping secure Dr. Hoodfar's release—most notably Oman, Italy, and Switzerland," said Trudeau in the statement.

"I would also like to recognize the cooperation of those Iranian authorities who facilitated her release and repatriation," the statement continued. "They understand that cases like these impede more productive relations."

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