Family of US Citizen Missing in Iran Seeks Answers

Three years after her disappearance, the family of Iranian-American dual citizen Ashraf Amin-Akbari continues to seek answers.

Ashraf Amin-Akbari, 63, is an Iranian-American-Canadian citizen born in Iran. Amin-Akbari, who resided in Las Vegas, Nevada, boarded a flight to Tehran to visit her family in July of 2018, and has been missing since August 1, 2018. The trip was meant to be a 3-week visit to a family home in Tehran.

Despite the passage of more than 3 years and her family’s persistent communications with US, Canadian, and Iranian officials, her whereabouts remain unknown. Amin-Akbari is currently listed on INTERPOL’s yellow notice list, a global police alert for missing persons.

In an interview with HRANA, Afsar Amin-Akbari, Ashraf’s sister, expressed concern regarding the condition of her 63-year-old sister.

“My sister had gone to Iran for a three-week trip to visit family,” she said. “Two weeks into her trip, on August 1, 2018, she disappeared. She has not been heard from since. Is it possible for a person to be lost in a country for this period and not be heard from? I follow up with the Iranian police and Agahi Shapoor (a specialist police department) every week and they say they have no information. I am told, ‘is your sister the only one missing in Iran?’”

Ms. Akbari is also concerned about the Iranian government’s history of arresting dual nationals.

“We have searched all hospitals, morgues, and cemeteries,” she told HRANA. “My sister has no history of civic activity, the only way left we think she may be is in a security detention center or prison. My sister is sick, suffering from kidney failure, she even quit her job due to illness. She needs her own medicine, and I do not know if she has access to her medicine wherever she is.”

On Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, announced, “Iran’s Foreign Ministry is to launch a program under which it claims to guarantee that dual nationals traveling to the country will not face detention or any other legal problem.”

In light of the recent remarks, HRA Senior Advocacy Coordinator Skylar Thompson calls on Amir-Abdollahian to answer for the situation of Amini Akbari and other dual nationals that are seemingly being held as political bargaining chips.

Thompson added, “The claim of such a guarantee is remarkably insensitive to the families of disappeared and detained dual nationals inside of Iran, including Ms. Amin-Akbari.”

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For further inquiries please contact Skylar Thompson, Senior Advocacy Coordinator Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRA) at [email protected]

Iran: UK-Based Art Philosophy Student Detained on Charges of Threatening National Security

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Aras Amiri, an Iranian citizen and 10-year resident of the UK who was released on bail for national-security-related charges in March, was summoned to Evin Prison, read her charges, and transferred to the women’s ward on September 7, 2018.

Iranian intelligence officers apprehended the Kingston University graduate student on March 14, 2018, just prior to the Iranian New Year. She had been out of custody since posting a bond of $120,000 USD (500 million IRR) bail on May 21.

A source close to Amiri confirmed the news of her recent summons, and told HRANA that she is being pursued on charges of “action against national security.” “However,” the source added, “we are still in the dark about how she responded to that charge since the case file has yet to be sent to court.”

Prior to her arrest, Amiri–who studies the philosophy of art–was working to launch joint exhibition projects between Iranian and British artists, collaborating with bodies like the British Council and a UK-based charity with satellite offices worldwide. The British Council had its own office in Tehran until February of 2009, when security agents prompted the Council to cease its in-country operations by excessively questioning the employees there.

One of Amiri’s family members previously told the media that her cultural activities have been in concert and alignment with the various branches of the Iranian Ministry of Culture. During the ten years of her residence in the UK, she had repeatedly traveled to Iran without issue.

In recent years, a number of Iranian nationals residing outside of the country have been detained and imprisoned upon returning to Iran. Abbas Edalat, an Iranian-British dual citizen and professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Imperial College in London, was traveling to Iran for an educational workshop when he was detained and sent to Evin Prison in April 2018.