Renowned Canadian-Iranian environmental activist dies in jail in Tehran

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Prison authorities insist that three prisoners who died after they were arrested during nationwide street protests in December also committed suicide, although many Iranians have challenged those conclusions.

Mr Seyed-Emami ran the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation and was a sociology professor.

Kavous Seyed Emami, a 63-year-old sociology professor at Iran's Imam Sadegh University, has been confirmed dead just two weeks after his arrest.

"The information published about him is not believable, and we expect officials to respond and to provide the public with information concerning his death", the association said in a statement.

"This stems from the widespread impunity of judicial and security officials who are getting away with murder, time after time".

The Iranian judiciary could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday evening.

An Iranian-Canadian dual citizen and environmental activist imprisoned by Iranian authorities last month has died in prison, his son wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality and treats those arrested as Iranian citizens. At the time, Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird said that it was due to fear for the safety of diplomats and Iran's non-compliance with United Nations resolutions over its nuclear program.

There is now no Canadian embassy in Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality.

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Seyed-Emami received his doctorate in sociology from the University of OR in 1991, according to an online alumni listing maintained by the university. Her death led to a downgrading in diplomatic relations between Iran and Canada. The family has asked for an independent autopsy, he said.

Canada has no embassy in Iran.

"He was a very knowledgeable man and a very kind and generous man", said Nahid Siamdoust, a scholar at Yale University who knew him.

His son said he did not believe he had taken his own life.

"Everyone is in shock", an academic who knew Emami well told AFP on condition of anonymity. "He had a quite eclectic set of interests from economics, politics, very much the environment, he was a very well-rounded sociologist", Harrison said.

"The claim of a suicide is highly questionable", Ghaemi said in a telephone interview, while admitting he had "no idea" how the professor may have really died.

Others with ties to the West detained in Iran include Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly "infiltrating" the country while doing doctoral research on Iran's Qajar dynasty. Human rights groups say activists in Iran face the risk of arbitrary arrest and harassment by authorities.

Meanwhile Ali Shakourirad, head of the reformist Islamic Union Party, tweeted that the death had "caused a wave of questions and concerns among the public".

"Consular officials in Ankara are working to gather additional information and are providing assistance to the family", Natasha Nystrom wrote.

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