ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian authorities have released British–Kurdish anthropologist Kameel Ahmadi on bail of five billion rials, about $40,000 USD, a local human rights monitor said Wednesday.
The Iranian intelligence service arrested Ahmadi in August in Tehran, where he is a resident, on charges that are still unclear. He was held in the infamous Evin Prison, a facility known for decades for the cruel mistreatment of intellectuals and political dissidents, many of whom have died while in custody. The facility is under the control of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaeli appeared to claim shortly after that the arrest came amid suspicions of espionage, alleging “connection with foreign countries and institutions affiliated with foreign agencies,” according to a BBC report.
Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) reported Ahmadi had spent the first month of his stay at a solitary confinement chamber in Ward 2 of the prison. After this, he was transferred to the general ward of the prison until his release on Monday, KHRN added.
Ahmadi holds a post-graduate degree in anthropology and visual ethnography from the University of Kent and has worked on multiple community development programs with a focus on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), male circumcision, and child marriage. Ahmedi's family previously said that he has been a British citizen for some 25 years.
In 2015, Ahmedi made the first authoritative and comprehensive study on FGM in Iran, widely covered by major news outlets such as The Guardian and the BBC. His research has sparked discussion and debate within the UN and UNICEF on the topic.
Earlier, he published a 2009 guidebook for traveling to 15 provinces in Turkey with large Kurdish populations, entitled “Another Look East and Southeast of Turkey.”
The Kurdish academic has also worked on other taboo research topics such as temporary marriages in Iran, identity and ethnicity, and homosexuality.
Earlier this week, widespread unrest engulfed Iran as people took to the streets against a government decision to effectively triple the price of subsidized gasoline.
A brutal IRGC crackdown on the protests has led to the deaths of at least 200 demonstrators in five days, local monitors have reported, with many of the casualties being in the Kurdish-majority cities of Kermashan, Jwanro, and Mariwan.
The status of the protests is still largely unknown amid an internet blackout imposed by authorities.
Editing by John J. Catherine