RICHMOND, B.C.—The sons of an Iranian-Canadian professor who died in prison in Tehran arrived in Canada on Thursday, a day after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland pressured Iran to allow their mother to leave the country as well.
Freeland issued a statement welcoming Ramin and Mehran Seyed-Emami to Canada as they arrived at Vancouver International Airport.
“At the same time, we were outraged to learn that their mother, Maryam Mombeini, Mr.Seyed-Emami’s widow, was barred from leaving Iran for no apparent reason,” she said.
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“We call on the government of Iran to immediately give Maryam Mombeini, a Canadian citizen, the freedom to return home.”
Freeland said Canada is continuing to demand answers from Iran on the circumstances surrounding the death of Kavous Seyed-Emami, a 63-year-old sociology professor who was being held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison earlier this year. Iranian authorities have said Seyed-Emami’s death was a suicide, but the family and others have questioned that finding.
It was difficult to say goodbye to his mother, said Ramin Seyed-Emami, a musician who performs under the stage name King Raam.
“She said, ‘I just want you guys to be safe and away from this horrible place. Don’t ever come back,’ “ he told reporters at the airport, fighting back tears as he spoke.
“I have friends with her at all times. I don’t want her to be alone for one single second.”
He said his mother’s Iranian passport has been confiscated to intimidate them from telling their story. She has spoken directly with Freeland, who assured them she will make it to Canada.
Ramin said the family has faced intimidation by authorities since they began speaking out about his father’s death.
“Instead of being able to grieve the loss of our father in peace, we have been forced to endure harassment by the Iranian authorities,” said Ramin, who was born in Iran but also lived with his family in Canada and the United States.
“They’re trying to prevent us from rebuilding our lives.”
Omar Alghabra, parliamentary secretary for the foreign affairs minister, said the government is “fully committed to reuniting them with their mother and we’ll exercise all diplomatic channels and all actions before us to see their mother reunited with them back home.”
That includes communication between Canada and Iran’s representatives at the United Nations. Freeland has requested a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javal Zarif, but had not received a response by mid-Thursday.
Seyed-Emami was a professor of sociology at Imam Sadeq University in Tehran and the managing director of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation. He was arrested on Jan. 24.
Last month, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said authorities had arrested several unidentified people on suspicion of spying under the cover of scientific and environmental projects.