Over the last nine months, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has arrested six or more Iranians with dual nationality, the largest number detained at the same time over the past few years.
Homa Hoodfar an academic from Montreal was preparing to leave Iran to return to Montreal this past March when agents from the powerful paramilitary Iran Islamic Revolutionary Guard raided the home in Tehran where she was staying. They took her phone, laptop, passport and books said her family.
During the next 90 days, Hoodfar, a Canadian, Iranian as well as Irish citizen was called on a regular basis for interrogations that would last a full day.
She went on June 6 for another interrogation but never returned.
On June 15, the Mashregh site, which has an affiliation with the Guards, published what they allege are her crimes – creating problems with the security of the Islamic Republic due to participating in feminist activities.
Attempts to contact the Revolutionary Guards through their official site and their media office to make a comment were unsuccessful.
Iran has confirmed that six or more people have been detained, but will not give details as to what the charges if any are against them.
Analysts said that the circumstances are often times very similar: an arrest upon either arrival or a departure from the airport in Tehran, an announcement release that interrogation is taking place followed by the website of the hardliners publishing alleged crimes, usually those of trying to overthrow the government, all prior to them entering court.
The government of Iran will not recognize any dual nationality, which prevents the relevant embassies from the west from seeing the people who were detained.
The State Department in the U.S. this past March issued a warning to that Iranian Americans in particular that they are at a high risk of being held or imprisoned upon traveling into Iran.
Former prisoners, families of people currently being held and a host of diplomats said that in certain cases those detained are kept for prisoner exchanges with countries in the West.
This past January, the U.S. and Iran were able to reach a prisoner swap of historic proportions that saw Iranians who were charged or held in the U.S. for sanctions violations as well as other charges, released in return for the release of Americans held in Iranian prisons.
The timing of these detentions appears to have undermined the outreach of Iran President Hassan Rouhani to the west following the signing of the nuclear agreement last summer, say analysts.