Canadian woman held in Iran after husband died now home safe: Freeland

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is confirming that a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen who has been denied permission to leave Iran is now safe at home in Canada.

Freeland tweeted that Maryam Mombeini has been reunited with her family in Canada, and the minister lauded her for her bravery.

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The Iranian government denied Mombeini permission to travel after her husband, an environmentalist and university professor, died in a Tehran prison while being held on espionage accusations in early 2018.

Mombeini's husband Kavous Seyed-Emami, a 63-year-old sociology professor, died at Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

Iranian authorities deemed Seyed-Emami's death a suicide, but the family and others have questioned that finding.

Mombeini's son Ramin was allowed to leave Iran and return to Canada in March 2018 but authorities in Tehran did not allow her to travel with him.

Freeland's spokesman sent an email to The Canadian Press highlighting the minister's tweet, which also retweeted a photo and caption from an account that appeared to belong to one of Mombeini's sons. The spokesman said in an email seeking clarification that the tweet "is the minister confirming on the record!"

The tweet included a photo of two men with a woman who appeared to be Mombeini in an airport lounge.

"We are finally reunited with our beautiful mother! We spent 582 days dreaming of this moment," said the tweet.

Freeland wrote that she was "relieved that Maryam Mombeini is at home in Canada at last and reunited with her family. You have all shown tremendous bravery in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I am thinking of you today!"

A senior government official who was not authorized to speak for attribution due to the sensitivity of the situation said Freeland spoke to her Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and other Iranian officials about a matter that has been a top priority for her.

Canada also made "direct representations" through its embassy at the United Nations, the official said.

The government wasn't releasing any more details about Mombeini's release out of respect for her family.

The Liberal government pledged during the 2015 federal election to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran, but Freeland has made clear that wasn't going to happen unless the regime allowed Mombeini to leave the country.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 11, 2019.

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