Thursday October 06, 2016

Homa Hoodfar's detention in Iranian prison not unique, says Human Rights Watch

Homa Hoodfar is welcomed as she arrives at Trudeau Airport Thursday, September 29, 2016 in Montreal. Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian academic was held in Iran's Evin prison for more than 100 days.

Homa Hoodfar is welcomed as she arrives at Trudeau Airport Thursday, September 29, 2016 in Montreal. Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian academic was held in Iran's Evin prison for more than 100 days. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Listen 9:42

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Homa Hoodfar is lucky to be home after 112 days in a notorious Iranian prison.

RELATED: Homa Hoodfar shares her story with The Current

The Iranian-Canadian professor was accused of meddling in an Iranian parliamentary election and bringing her feminism into politics.

Tara Sepehri Far says Hoodfar's case is far from unique in Iran, where many people — particularly dual nationals — have been arrested on questionable charges.

Sepehri Far investigates human rights abuses as a researcher in the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

She says the Iranian government has a documented pattern of torture and abuse in prisons like Evin, where Hoodfar was being held.

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Homa Hoodfar is joined by her niece and nephew after arriving at Montreal's Trudeau airport, Sept. 28, following 112 days in Iran's notorious Evin prison. (CBC)

While Sepehri Far is pleased that Hoodfar is home safe, she has concerns about the private nature of the negotiations that led to the release.

"Obviously this is not a process that should be encouraged. On transparent process of negotiating prisoners release behind the scene, [it] only raises concerns about the reasons behind these arrests," says Sepehri Far.

"Makes us wonder if there are going to be used as bargaining chips any way in negotiations with Iran."

Homa Hoodfar: 'It's wonderful to be home'1:46

Hoodfar was transported on a Omani air force plane, something that doesn't surprise Sepehri Far. She says this is not the first time the Omani government has facilitated negotiations between Iran and the West.

"While I have to say that they definitely played a constructive role in securing the release of professor Homa Hoodfar, I would only wish that they were also kind enough to their own journalists and critics who are often arrested and charged for criticizing the government."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.