An Iranian state news agency says authorities have extended a travel ban on the widow of an Iranian-Canadian environmentalist who died in prison last year after being arrested on suspicion of espionage.
IRNA quoted a lawyer for Maryam Mombeini as saying in a Tuesday interview that he had gone to a Tehran court on Sunday to seek an end to the year-long ban imposed on the widow of the environmentalist, Kavous Seyed-Emami. Lawyer Payam Derafshan told IRNA that a court official informed him the travel ban on Mombeini has been extended.
IRNA quoted Derafshan as saying that in response, he wrote a letter of complaint to a Tehran prosecutor, arguing the ban should not have been extended because Mombeini has fully cooperated with authorities investigating the spying allegations against her late husband and she was not a suspect in that case. The lawyer told IRNA he also reminded the prosecutor that Mombeini’s travel ban has deprived her from being with her two sons, who left Iran for Canada last March.
There was no word from Iranian state media as to why Mombeini has been barred from leaving Iran.
One of her sons, Vancouver-based Ramin Emami, retweeted a link to Tuesday’s IRNA report about his mother and commented: “What to say about this injustice?” He also added a zipper-mouth face emoji, suggesting he was unable to say more about the case, and the hashtag #bringmaryamhome.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Iran last March to let Mombeini travel to see her sons.
Iran detained Seyed-Emami and eight other members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation in January 2018, accusing them of using wildlife cameras to spy on military sites. Seyed-Emami died in custody the following month in what officials termed a suicide. Family members disputed that assertion and called for further investigation.
A report by state-controlled news site ISNA said the conservationists appeared in a Tehran court on Monday for a fifth session of their trial that began January 30. It said a prosecutor completed the reading of a more than 300-page indictment of the eight defendants. But the report gave no other details of the closed-door trial.
The eight defendants – six men and two women – include Niloufar Bayani, Taher Ghadirian, Houman Jowkar, Sepideh Kashani, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, Sam Rajabi and Morad Tahbaz.
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has quoted a source as saying much of the indictment was based on forced confessions from Bayani. It cited the source as saying Bayani interrupted the trial's opening session several times, accusing investigators of extracting confessions from her under mental and physical duress, and saying she has since retracted those statements.
In a new report published Tuesday, CHRI quoted a source as saying Bayani was absent from the third, fourth and fifth sessions of the trial, although her court-appointed lawyer was present. CHRI said it did not know the reason for Bayani’s absence, which also has been reported by U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch. Iranian state media have reported the absence of one of the female defendants from recent sessions of the trial, without mentioning her name.
International human rights organizations have called on Iran to release the environmentalists and investigate allegations that authorities have mistreated them.
A group of 369 international conservation practitioners and scholars have added their names to a November 2018 open letter to Iran's Supreme Leader, saying they believe the detained Iranian environmentalists are innocent.
This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service.