Iranian officials are calling out the Canadian government for failing to extradite a banker who settled in Toronto and who they claim is behind a multibillion-dollar embezzlement scheme.
The comments from Iran's justice minister came just hours after the family of a Canadian academic publicly raised concerns about her incarceration in a notorious prison in Tehran.
Concordia University anthropologist Homa Hoodfar, 65, was arrested over the weekend, according to her family. It was the second time she's been arrested since arriving in the country several months ago to conduct research.
The Iranian government has accused Hoodfar, who holds both Canadian and Iranian passports, of "co-operating with a foreign state against the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Canada accused of not co-operating
As Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion called Hoodfar's case a "priority" on Wednesday, the Iranian regime renewed one of its long-standing demands of Ottawa.
Iran's Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi was reported in a semi-official news agency report as saying that Canada was ignoring Iranian demands to extradite Mahmmoud Reza Khavari.
The report, which appeared Wednesday from the Fars News Agency, says Pourmohammadi told reporters in Tehran that Canada "is not committed and has not rendered any co-operation" with its extradition request.
Khavari is described in the article as the "main culprit" behind a $2.6-billion bank fraud in Iran. It says he fled Iran in 2011, having previously acquired Canadian citizenship.
Dion was questioned about Hoodfar's situation in the House of Commons on Thursday. He repeated what he told the House on Wednesday, saying her case is important and that the government is concerned about her well-being.
Amnesty takes up Hoodfar's case
The Canadian branch of human rights group Amnesty International announced Thursday it would take up Hoodfar's case and called on Ottawa to pressure Iran for her release.
"The arrest of respected and accomplished scholar, Dr. Homa Hoodfar, is the latest attempt by the Iranian authorities at targeting individuals, including academics, for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association." said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
"It is deeply troubling that someone whose research focuses on addressing women's inequality can find herself arbitrarily arrested and held, possibly in solitary confinement, without access to a lawyer and her family."