Canadian Professor Homa Hoodfar Freed From Iranian Jail

The 65-year-old academic was held in solitary confinement for weeks, according to her family.

Canadian-Iranian academic Homa Hoodfar is now free after spending three months in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, according to a statement from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Hoodfar, 65, who holds Canadian, Irish and Iranian citizenship, and is a professor emerita at Montreal’s Concordia University, was arrested in June on charges of collaborating with a hostile government against national security and of propaganda against the state. She was in Tehran conducting historical research on women’s involvement in Iranian elections, according to Amnesty International. 

Iranian media accused Hoodfar of “fomenting a feminist revolution” following her arrest. Her family called the allegations “trumped up,” and an international campaign including numerous academics and religious scholars lobbied for her freedom. 

In August, Hoodfar was hospitalized and “could hardly walk or talk,” according to a statement from her family. The family alleged that she was not receiving treatment for a serious neurological condition. The incident added renewed media focus on Hoodfar’s imprisonment, as her family sought greater public exposure for the case. 

The government of Canada worked to secure Hoodfar’s freedom for months, but refused to discuss the case in detail while it was active. However, Trudeau said in Monday’s statement that Canada closely collaborated with Oman, Italy and Switzerland on achieving Hoodfdar’s freedom.

“Canadians are relieved that Dr. Hoodfar has been released from jail and will soon be reunited with her family, friends and colleagues,” Trudeau said.

“The Government of Canada has been actively and constructively engaged at the highest levels in Dr. Hoodfar’s case – since her ordeal began – working for her release and return to Canada,” he continued.

Iran released Hoodfar on “humanitarian grounds,” citing her illness, the BBC reported Iranian state media as saying. 

Hoodfar is one of many dual nationals Iran has imprisoned in recent months on vague charges. The State Department issued a renewed travel warning this year for Iran, specifically warning Iranian-Americans on the risks of traveling to the country.

Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, and some analysts view the arrests of dual nationals like Hoodfar as a political tool that hard-liners may be using to deter foreign influence and keep Iran isolated.