The arrest and imprisonment of a Concordia University professor brings to five the number of prisoners with connections to Canada being held by the regime, says Amnesty International Canada.
Homa Hoodfar, 65, was re-arrested last Monday and is being held at the notorious Evin prison, where Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi was tortured to death in 2003.
“All of these cases need resolution,” says Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty in Canada.
Saeed Malekpour, a permanent resident who lived in British Columbia, has been in Evin prison since October 2008.
Mostafa Azizi, also a permanent resident, was arrested in February 2015. He was released earlier this year but remains in Iran, where “there are still concerns about his safety.”
Mohammad Ali Taheri, an Iranian spiritual teacher with a number of Canadian family members, has been in solitary confinement for five years.
And Hossein Rafiee, a scientist and writer whose daughter is a permanent resident of Canada, has been in Evin prison for a year. Seven Nobel laureates are among 300 scientists who have demanded his release.
Canada closed its Iranian embassy in 2012 and the lack of diplomatic ties has complicated negotiations for their release, Neve says.
“On a practical level, it’s complicated because we don’t have an ambassador in Iran to send around to the relevant government offices and make interventions; we don’t have an ambassador to connect with and rally other ambassadors to help us out,” he tells Yahoo Canada News.
But the new federal government has made it clear it is its intention to restore diplomatic relations, he adds.
“That may well offer a very important opportunity,” Neve says. “This needs to be put at the very forefront of those conversations.”