A dual British-Iranian national who has studied child marriage and female genital mutilation in the Islamic Republic has been arrested in Iran on unspecified charges, amid fears it could further damage relations between the two countries.
Kameel Ahmady, a celebrated anthropologist, was detained on Sunday.
His wife Shafagh Rahmani said that he faced a series of charges at Evin Prison, Tehran, related to ‘his activities’, which include studying human rights, child marriage and female genital mutilation in Iran.
Ms Rahmani added that her husband had not been officially charged by Tuesday night and security agents had come to the couple’s house to take away documents including his ID card.
She later said that a local judicial official confirmed a one-month temporary detention order had been issued against Mr Ahmady.
‘They have not provided any information about the reason for the arrest or the charges against Kameel,’ Ms Rahmani wrote on Instagram.
Mr Ahmady was born in the western city of Mahabad and is an Iranian Kurd who was granted British citizenship in 1994.
Kameel Ahmady, a celebrated anthropologist, was detained on Sunday in Tehran and there are fears his arrest could damage relations between Iran and the UK
He had been living in Iran for the last 14 years before his arrest on Sunday.
There are fears that the arrest could further damage relations between Iran and the UK, following tensions over tanker seizures in the Gulf.
Mr Ahmady studied at the London School of Economics and, according to his Linkedin profile, is a ‘scholar working in the field of social anthropology conducting research on topics related to local cultures, women and children, and the rights of minorities in the Middle East, with some work experience in Africa and the Far East.’
In 2015, Mr Ahmady published a study which suggested that tens of thousands of Iranian women had undergone female genital mutilation.
His groundbreaking study changed perceptions as, before its release, Iran was not seen as a country affected by FGM.
He told the - in 2015: ‘I returned to Iran in 2005 to study FGM in my home country and instantly I was shocked to discover that it even happened to the closest members of my own family and relatives.’
His detainment raises comparisons with the jailing of another British-Iranian national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in 2016 on espionage charges.
He was arrested on charges related to ‘his activities’, which include studying human rights, child marriage and female genital mutilation in Iran
In 2015, Mr Ahmady published a study which suggested that tens of thousands of Iranian women had undergone female genital mutilation
Her husband Richard claims that Nazanin and other dual nationals are being used as leverage as tensions between Iran and Western nations continue.
Relations between Iran and the Western world have been in decline since the US pulled out of an international agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear programme and reimposed economic sanctions.
Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 was then seized last month by the Royal Navy off Gibraltar, on the tip of southern Spain.
In response to the seizure, Iran seized a British-flagged tanker.
On July 19, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards impounded the British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz for breaking ‘international maritime rules’.
The seizures of the tankers has fueled anger on both sides, with Iranian vessels reportedly posing as US and British warships to interfere with oil tankers’ GPS to send them off course.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, (pictured) was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport while travelling with their young daughter in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison after being accused of spying, a charge she vehemently denies
The Revolutionary Guard have reportedly been sending fake signals to coalition merchant vessels in a bid to send them mistakenly sailing into Iranian waters.
Iranian military forces then use this unwitting incursion into their territory as a ploy to seize the ships.
In response, US and British warships have been acting as patrol boats to protect merchant ships in the Gulf.
Earlier this month, a Royal Navy warship joined the US-led taskforce to protect merchant ships from Iranian forces.
Type-23 frigate HMS Kent left Portsmouth Naval Base to take over duties in the Strait of Hormuz from Type 45 defender HMS Duncan.
Iranian reports claimed a tanker seized by British marines would be released imminently – six weeks after it was detained off of Gibraltar. The Grace 1 tanker is pictured last month
The British-flagged tanker Stena Impero was hijacked by Iranian commandos in the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations, prompting an increased UK naval presence in the Gulf
Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops wearing ski masksare seen on board a helicopter flying over British-flagged tanker Stena Impero near the strait of Hormuz July 19
HMS Montrose (center) accompanying the Stena Important (left) and the Sea Ploeg vessels in the Gulf. Britain join forces with the US to protect merchant vessels in the Gulf amid heightened tension with Iran
The move came after the UK announced it would join the initiative to protect shipping following the seizure of the Stena Impero by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Yesterday, Gibraltar denied reports that an Iranian tanker seized near the British overseas territory is poised to be released.
A senior official said a report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency that the Grace 1 tanker left on Tuesday night was ‘untrue’.
The tanker was seized last month in a Royal Navy operation off Gibraltar, on the tip of southern Spain.
It is suspected of violating European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, and its seizure deepened international tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Gibraltar said on Tuesday it was seeking to de-escalate issues arising with Iran since the detention.