Kameel Ahmady, British-Iranian Academic Sentenced to Nine Years in Jail in Iran, Pulls Off Daring Escape Back to Britain

A British-Iranian dual national sentenced to nine years and three months in jail in Iran for co-operating with “a hostile state power” has smuggled himself out of Iran, escaping over the country’s treacherous mountainous border, and is now living in London.

In an interview with the Guardian, Kameel Ahmady explained he felt had no option but to flee after spending nearly 100 days in Evin prison, including a brutal spell in solitary confinement while he was being interrogated.

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“Once I had been sentenced I had a choice of whether I would stay and not see my family and four-year-old child until he was 14, or to risk fleeing,” he said.

Ahmady, a social anthropologist whose research revealed the extent of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iran, was found guilty of conspiring with hostile foreign powers in November 2020, among other charges, but was released on bail pending his appeal. He was also fined more than £500,000.

He said given how Iranian courts normally confirmed the first judgment and because of the political motivation for the trial, he had not held much hope his appeal would succeed – a view that was confirmed when it was rejected in absentia on Monday.

Ahmady said he did not yet know whether Iranian officials realised he had escaped the country.

He escaped carrying only his laptop and copies of the books and articles he had published, crossing the border through snow 1.5 metres deep and fog, evading Iranian border patrols. Border security has been heightened ever since the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran last year.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Patrick Wintour

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