PHOTO: Iranian-American Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Neyssari, detained since July in Tehran’s Evin Prison
An Iranian-American dual national and his wife have been detained in Iran without charge or access to lawyers since their arrest by the Revolutionary Guards in July, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
The ICHRI said dual natonal Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Neyssari, who run an art gallery in Tehran, were the latest in a series of foreign residents seized and taken to Evin Prison.
Neyssari was held at the airport as she was about to board a flight to attend a family wedding abroad. She was told to call Vafadari, who was detained as soon as he arrived.
Without mentioning Vafadari and Niasari by name, Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on August 2 that “two Iranian dual nationals” had been charged with organizing mixed-gender parties for foreign diplomats and their Iranian associates.
“The enemies of the Revolution are engaged in organized corruption and depravity,” Dolatabadi said. He claimed 4,000 liters of alcohol had been found at the couple’s home.
Initially, the families of the couple decided not to publicize their cases, hoping it would be resolved. However, “when the family started receiving anonymous phone threats and demands for money, they decided to go public and write a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader”, the ICHRI said.
Kateh Vafadari, the US-based sister of Karan Vafadari, said in the letter that the detained couple had been subjected to “extortion, property seizure, and national security threats” since their arrest. She called for their immediate release.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that officials were aware of the reports, but declined to comment.
The Revolutionary Guards have seized a series of dual nationals since last autumn. They include Iranian-American oil executive Siamak Namazi and his 80-year-old father Baqer, a Canadian-Iranian who is a former UNESCO official; Anglo-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation; Nazar Zaka, a Lebanian-Iranian based in the US; and and Iranian-American Robin Shahini.
A Canadian-Iranian academic, Homa Hoodfar, was released in September after three months in prison, as Iran and Canada discussed the reopening of embassies.
In January, four Iranian-Americans were freed amid the implementation of the July 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the 5+1 Powers. Among them was Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, held for 18 months.