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Kameel Ahmady, British-Iranian Anthropologist, Detained In Iran – News Updates (August 2019 to February 2021)

February 3, 2021

This photograph is of my friend and colleague, the British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady, in happier times when he kindly came to support my book launch, and attended the U.N. FGM conference in Geneva in 2016.

But in mid-August 2019 Kameel was detained, and months later bailed, in Iran on vague and political criminal charges relating to ‘national security’.  The upshot was a verdict of nine years’ imprisonment and an unthinkably massive fine.

Just after his sentence however Kameel, his wife Shafagh Rahmani and their little son managed in December 2020 / January 2021 to escape to Britain, from where he hopes to continue reporting on female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and ‘white marriage’ in the Middle-East
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News reports on the detention in Iran of British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady
(newest report first):

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6 February 2021
Tobe Levin, UnCut/Voices Press
“Eventually I made the decision I had been struggling with … to escape.”*
*
Brendan O’Malley, University World News
Social anthropologist facing nine years in prison escapes

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3 February 2021
ITV News
Academic flees Iran for UK to avoid years in notorious prison
*
Jamie Prentice, N World
British researcher flees across Iran’s mountain border after spending 100 days in Evin jail
Anthropologist Kameel Ahmady was appealing against a nine-year sentence
*
Chris Cooney, The US Sun
I-RAN FOR MY LIFE: Brit facing jail in Iran ESCAPES Revolutionary Guard and treks 300 miles through mountains to safety
*
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
Academic jailed in Iran pulls off daring escape back to Britain
Exclusive: Kameel Ahmady smuggled himself out through mountainous border after being sentenced to nine years
*
James Landale, BBC News
Kameel Ahmady: British academic facing jail escapes Iran over mountains
*
Samuel Osborne, The Independent
British academic facing jail in Iran makes daring escape to UK
Anthropologist who studied FGM describes harrowing experiences in infamous prison
*
Darius Bazargan, Channel 4
British academic jailed in Iran escapes to UK
Jailed British-Iranian academic sentenced to nine years in prison escaped Iran to the UK while he was awaiting a court appearance.
*
Campbell MacDairmid, The Telegraph
British-Iranian academic jailed in Iran tells of escape through mountains to return to UK
Kameel Ahmady has said he made the treacherous journey in order to see his family and four-year-old son
*
AFP, The Times of Israel
UK-Iranian academic charged with visiting Israel says he fled Iran while on bail
Kameel Ahmady, also accused of promoting homosexuality, describes escape across mountain border after being sentenced to 9 years in jail
*
Tim Stickings, Mail Online
British academic reveals incredible escape from Iran after fleeing on foot across snowy mountain tops while evading border patrols after he was sentenced to nine years in jail
>Dual national Kameel Ahmady was sentenced to nine years in jail in December
>The allegations included working with foreign governments and visiting Israel
>He trekked through mountains to escape the country and is now living in the UK
*
Patrick Wintour, Irish Times
Academic facing nine years in prison flees Iran for UK
Kameel Ahmady escaped through mountains in snow and fog, evading border patrols
*
Hilary Burrage, http://www.hilaryburrage.com
Kameel Ahmady’s Statement On His Trial And Subsequent Escape To Britain
Kameel Ahmady: His Defence Appeal Against Imprisonment
Kameel Ahmady: Verdict Of His 2019-2020 Trial In Iran

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29 January 2021
Cameron White & Georgia Goble, Varsity
Cambridge commemorates fifth anniversary of Giulio Regeni’s murder
Speakers at a vigil demanded justice for Giulio Regeni’s murder, as the University released a commemorative statement defending academic freedom

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6 January 2021
John Chua, The Independent
Helping the British academic imprisoned in Iran is Boris Johnson’s chance to redeem himself
After failing to protect Iranian-British detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the prime minister now has a chance to do the right thing

*
Matilda Coleman, UpNewsInfo
Iran May Pass #MeToo Law

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2 January 2021
Lorenz, Antroplogi.info
Iran jails anthropologist for “subversive research”, “seeking cultural changes” and “promoting homosexuality”

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23 December 2021
Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy
Iran: Maximum Pressure, Minimum Gain
In 2020, the Trump administration sought to bury the Iran nuclear deal for good. Biden is poised to breathe new life into the pact.

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18 December 2020
33 Bedford Row
Press Release: Mr. Ahmady, British-Iranian anthropologist, instructs Barristers

*
Michael Lipin, Ramin Haghjoo, VOA
Iran Transfers Ninth Female Dissident to Harsher Prison

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17 December 2020
Committee of Concerned Scientists
Social Anthropolgist With Dual Citizenship Sentenced in Iran on Ambiguous Charges 

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16 December 2020
UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee
Report: “No prosperity without justice: the UK’s relationship with Iran”
*
Arab News
Iran jails British-Iranian researcher Kameel Ahmady for 9 years
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14 December 2020
BBC News Middle East
Kameel Ahmady: British FGM academic ‘jailed in Iran’
*
AL-MONITOR
Iran sentences Kameel Ahmady, British-Iranian anthropologist, to prison
Ahmady, who is ethnically Kurdish, had researched child marriage and female genital mutilation in Iran.

*
Uri Cohen, themedialine
Iran Jails Researcher Accused of ‘Subversive’ Conduct

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London Daily Report
Kameel Ahmady: British FGM academic ‘jailed in Iran’

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13 December 2020
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
British–Iranian academic sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran
Kameel Ahmady, who has written books on Iran, found guilty of collaborating with hostile state
*
Hilary Burrage (website)
Kameel Ahmady Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison

*
Christiane Brinkley, Eminetra
Iran jails Kameel Ahmady British-Iranian researcher for 9 years for subversion: report

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1 December 2020
BBC News Australia
Kylie Moore-Gilbert: Academic thanks supporters after Iran ‘nightmare’

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18 September 2020
Clive Williams, The Weekend Australian
Kylie Moore-Gilbert: Iran wants a hostage deal it can bank on

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11 September 2020
Center for Human Rights in Iran
Top UN Iran Expert Expresses “Alarm” at Iran’s “Unprecedented Violent Crackdown” against Protestors

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21 July 2020
Javaid Rehman, United Nations Seventy-fifth Session
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

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20 January 2020
Simon Waldman, The National, UAE
It is time the UK abandoned its gentle approach towards Iran
London has shown Tehran considerable goodwill but this needs to change, given Iran’s belligerence and hostage taking

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7 January 2020
Jamie Dettmer, VOA
Fears Mount Over Fate of 15 Britons and Americans Detained in Iran

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6 January 2020
Dominic Kennedy, The Times
Iran crisis: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘in despair’ over fading chance of release

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22 December 2019
Amir Vahdat, Lexington Herald Leader
Iran rejects ‘conditional release’ for Iranian-British woman

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11 December 2019
France 24
French pair held in Iran to face Revolutionary Court: report

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27 November 2019
Daily Stock Dish
Iran rejects French calls for researcher’s release

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21 November 2019
Ebby Abramson, Endangered Scholars Worldwide – Protecting Freedom in Higher Education
Kameel Ahmady —British-Iranian Anthropologist Arrested in Iran
*
i24News
British-Iranian academic held by Iran released on bail
*
The Peninsula (Qatar)
Iran releases British-Iranian academic on bail
*
The New Arab
Iran jails six wildlife conservationists for ‘spying’ after tracking endangered species
*
Times of Israel
Iran releases detained British-Iranian academic on bail
Kameel Ahmady, an anthropologist who has written about female genital mutilation in the nation, is under suspicion of links to foreign intelligence services
*
Kurdistan Human Rights Network
British-Iranian Researcher Released on Bail After 100 Days Detention

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19 November 2019
Persian BBC (kindly translated by Dr Janroj Yilmaz Keles and updated 21 November 2019)

Kameel Ahmady, an Iranian anthropologist and Kurdish scholar, has been released on bail of 500 million Tomans.
The Kurdish human rights network on Twitter has confirmed the news of the release of Ahmady
Mr. Ahmady was arrested by the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Agency in Tehran on August 5, 2019.
Human Rights Watch says Mr. Ahmady spent the first month of his detention in solitary confinement in Ward 2 of Evin Prison, which was under surveillance by the IRGC and had been transferred to the general ward of the prison the previous month.
Kameel Ahmady was born in Mahabad and lives in Tehran. Kameel Ahmady’s research has focused primarily on issues such as childbearing, child labour, female genital mutilation, temporary marriage, and the status of sexual and ethnic minorities in Iran.
Mr. Ahmady was released two days ago on bail of $42,000- about £32,500 (GBP). [Sum corrected on 21 November 2019.]
Gholamhossein Esmaeili, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, confirmed that Mr. Ahmady was arrested because of issues related to contact with foreign countries and foreign service agencies.

[Source: https://www.bbc.com/persian/iran-50489300]

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28 October 2019
(Nasser Karimi, Kansas Star Tribune)
Iran lawyer: No proof of charges against 2 French citizens
*
(Arab News)
US Vows to Increase Economic Pressure on Iran
*
(Lebanon Daily Star)
French academic held in Iran accused of ‘collusion’
*
(Saudi Gazette)
French academic held in Iran accused of ‘collusion’: Lawyer
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21 October 2019
(Ariel Zilber, Daily Mail)
Iran gives US list of prisoners it wants freed in a proposed swap, including scientist arrested last year for sending biological material to Islamic Republic 
Detailed account of Iranian detentions of several dual nationals including Kameel Ahmady and other Britons.
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18 October 2019
(Alice König, The Scotsman)
World needs to shout about scholars silenced by the state
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16 October 2019
(Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)
Paris Condemns ‘Unacceptable’ Arrest Of Two French Citizens In Iran

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7 October 2019
(Hansard, vol 664, col 1563)
Urgent Question: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (refers also to ‘other’ un-named British-Iranians)
Tulip Siddiq MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, following the release of one Australian-British national who was also imprisoned at Evin prison.

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4 October 2019
(France24)
Iran slams French ‘interference’ over detained academic
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(The Fresno Bee)
Iran rejects French calls for researcher’s release
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(Chron)
Iran rejects French calls for researcher’s release
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(Chris Baynes, Independent)
‘CIA spy’ sentenced to death in Iran as second suspect accused of helping British intelligence agencies jailed for 10 years.
Tehran’s judiciary also confirms arrest of British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady

*
(Daisy Busel, Talk Radio)
Iran confirms detention of British-Iranian academic
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(Saudi Gazette)
Iran confirms arrest of another academic
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(Middle East Online)
Iran confirms arrest of academic, sentences ‘spy’ to death.
Iranian-British anthropologist Kameel Ahmady is just the latest dual national detained amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West over its nuclear program.

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30 September 2019
(Louise Pyne-Jones, International Observatory of Human Rights)
Families of dual-national detainees launch campaign to free them at UNGA

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19 September 2019
(European Parliament)
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0019: Iran, notably the situation of women’s rights defenders and imprisoned EU dual nationals
European Parliament resolution of 19 September 2019 on Iran, notably the situation of women’s rights defenders and imprisoned EU dual nationals (2019/2823(RSP))

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17 September 2019
(Center for Human Rights in Iran)
Detained Iranian-British Anthropologist Says Charges Based on Government-Approved Research

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13 September 2019
(Radio Farda)
Iran Extends Detention Of British-Iranian Researcher

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30 August 2019
(Center for Human Rights in Iran)
No Family Visits or Lawyer Allowed for Detained Iranian-British Anthropologist Kameel Ahmady Two Weeks Into Detention.
Wife ‘s Requests for Charges and Medical Examination Go Unanswered
*
(Kurdistan Human Rights Network)
Iran Jails British Anthropologist in ‘Solitary Confinement’
*
(Niloufar Rostami, Iran Wire)
The British-Iranian Hostages Iran Labels as Terrorists

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29 August 2019
(Scholars at Risk)
#Iran: Kameel Ahmady, an Iranian-British anthropologist, was detained on Aug 11.
His family has not been allowed to visit him in prison, and authorities have refused to answer questions about his health and the grounds for his detention
*
(Arnold, Global Woman Peace Foundation)
GWPF’s 2018 Award Recipient Arrested & Detained In Iran

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28 August 2019
(John Chua, Independent)
My British friend was imprisoned in Iran after the UK government seized their oil tanker.
Now they won’t let him go.  The UK’s kowtowing to Trump’s aggressive rhetoric on Iran led to the capture of my friend, FGM researcher Kameel Ahmady. The government must now act to secure his release.
*
(EndFGM Network)
Support to Kameel Ahmady

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27 August 2019
(Middle East Studies Association: Committee on Academic Freedom)
Arrest and detention of Dr. Kameel Ahmady

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21 August 2019
(Statement on Kameel Ahmady – open to colleagues / scholars who wish to show support)
Statement On The Detention In Iran Of Social Anthropologist Kameel Ahmady

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19 August 2019
(Tara Kavaler, Jerusalem Post)
IRAN USING DUAL NATIONAL DETAINEES AS ECONOMIC BARGAINING CHIPS – ANALYSIS.
Arrests like that of Briton Kameel Ahmady are also being used to leverage the release of Iranians accused of violating US sanctions
*
(Sina Toosie, National American Iranian Council)
Dual British-Iranian Academic Arrested

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16 August 2019
(Ebby Abramson, Endangered Scholars Worldwide)
Kameel Ahmady —British-Iranian Anthropologist Arrested in Iran

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15 August 2019
(Guardian)
British dual national Kameel Ahmady detained in Iran. Anthropologist Kameel Ahmady being held in Tehran’s Evin prison on unknown charges, says family
*
(Zamaneh Media)
Iran Detains another Dual-National British Citizen: this Time a Researcher Working on Minorities.
Kameel Ahmady a British-Iranian researcher and academic working on minorities was arrested at his home in Tehran on Sunday.
*
(The New Arab)
British-Iranian FGM, child marriage researcher arrested in Iran on unknown charges
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(Scott Lucas, EAWorldView)
Iran Daily: Gibraltar Defies US, Releases Iranian Supertanker.
Another Anglo-Iranian dual national has been detained in Tehran.
*
(Jamie Prentis, NWorld)
British-Iranian academic detained in Tehran.
Anthropologist Kameel Ahmady conducts research on sensitive Iranian issues (!4 August, updated 15 August)
*
(WorldNews)
British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady is arrested in Tehran on mystery charges and his documents are removed from his house (nd..)
*
(Kurdistan au Feminin)
L’Iran a arrêté l’anthropologue kurde Kameel Ahmady

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14 August 2019
(Olivia Alabaster, Independent)
Iran has detained yet another dual-national British citizen. What is it hoping to achieve?
Tehran appears increasingly frustrated, and while Iran officially does not recognise dual-nationals, authorities there appear perfectly happy to use them as bartering chips
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(Independent, Richard Hall)
British-Iranian academic arrested in Iran amid tanker row: Prosecutors have not given any reason for his arrest
*
(BBC)
Kameel Ahmady: British-Iranian academic ‘arrested in Iran’
*
(Arab News)
Iran arrests British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady.
A one-month temporary detention order has been issued against Ahmady [who] has researched female genital mutilation and child marriage in Iran.
*
(Danyal Hussain, Mail Online)
British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady is arrested in Tehran on mystery charges and his documents are removed from his house.
Kameel Ahmady, a celebrated anthropologist, was detained in Tehran on Sunday. Wife Shafagh Rahmani said that the authorities hadn’t charged him by Tuesday . Mr Ahmady is an Iranian Kurd who was granted British citizenship back in 1994. In 2015, he published a groundbreaking study highlighting FGM in the country
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(Wladimir von Wilgenburg, Kurdistan 24)
Iran arrests British-Kurdish academic in Tehran
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(Josie Ensor, Telegraph)
British-Iranian academic arrested by Tehran amid rising tensions
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(Arab Weekly)
Iranian-British anthropologist held in Tehran amid tensions.
Kameel Ahmady has studied female genital mutilation, child marriages and other topics related to Iran.
*
(RUDAW)
British-Iranian academic arrested in Iran amid tanker tensions
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(Niloufar Nostami, IranWire)
IranWire Speaks to Wife of Jailed Iranian-British Anthropologist
*
(John Gambrell, Washington Times)
Iranian-British anthropologist held in Tehran amid tensions
*
(Bagdad Post)
Iran arrests yet another British dual national

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11 August 2019
(Scholars at Risk)
On August 11, 2019, Iranian authorities detained anthropologist Kameel Ahmady on “national security” grounds.
*
(La Repubblica)
Iran, arrestato antropologo anglo-iraniano. Ignote le accuse. Nel 2015 denunciò mutilazioni genitali femminili

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Regular updates – check date when you read
(Center for Human Rights in Iran)
Who Are the Dual and Foreign Nationals Imprisoned in Iran?

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3 February 2021: Kameel Ahmady writes:
The main parts of my verdict and summary of my defence can be accessed on my website through the links at the end of this statement. I decided to  make these public in order for people to know how and why I was sentenced,  accusations I have countered with real evidence that I believe will prove my innocence. Let them be recorded in history, which is the best judge.

Farsi version of these Statements, on Kameel’s website

See also:

Kameel Ahmady has published several books and many papers on issues in Iran around child labour, female genital mutilation, child marriage, cohabitation / ‘white’ marriage, temporary marriage, LGBT, identity, ethnicity and minority groups.

Examples of his work can be seen here Kameel Ahmady Website (with details of all his publications, awards etc.) and here Kameel Ahmady Biography

Kameel’s social media accounts are on Twitter and  Facebook.

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6684-2740

3 Comments
  1. October 6, 2019 02:48

    Good work, Hilary. Let’s hope the British government will negotiate successfully and many more supporters will sign on.

  2. Godfrey Williams-Okorodus permalink
    October 6, 2019 04:24

    I designed the book cover for Kameel’s book on FGM in Iran and it’s so disheartening that he is being incarcerated for speaking out against injustice and barbarism

    • October 6, 2019 11:27

      Thanks Godfrey, would you like to add your name to the Statement?

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