“These individuals have been collecting classified information about the country’s strategic areas under the guise of carrying out scientific and environmental projects,” he said, adding that they were arrested by Iran’s intelligence forces.
No further information has been provided on the identity of those arrested. It was unclear if Mr. Jafari-Dolatabadi was speaking about Mr. Seyed Emami and his colleagues.
Mr. Seyed Emami’s son, the popular singer Ramin Seyed Emami, was on a trip to the United States when his father was arrested. In the statement posted to his Instagram accounts, he said he was in disbelief that his father killed himself in prison.
“The news of my father’s passing is impossible to fathom,” he wrote. “They say he committed suicide. I still can’t believe this.”
For decades, Mr. Seyed Emami taught sociology at Tehran’s Imam Sadegh University, a hard-line institution where the cadres of the Iranian establishment are trained. He said it was his duty to teach students his opposing views. In his spare time, he organized popular camping trips for Tehrani youths to the outskirts of Iran.
Other environmentalists associated with Mr. Seyed Emami’s organization remain behind bars. Mr. Tahbaz, the Iranian-American businessman, is a board member of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation, and was quietly arrested by intelligence agents while visiting the country.
Several local employees and volunteers of the foundation were also arrested, though it is unclear why. Mr. Tahbaz has been accused by hard-line Iranian news outlets of plotting to sell hunting permits, something that seems highly implausible, people close to the foundation say.
The detention of Mr. Tahbaz adds to a long list of dual nationals arrested in Iran, most of them by the intelligence service of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Family members of two Iranian-Americans sentenced for spying, Baquer and Siamak Namazi, a father and son, say Iran is effectively holding them hostage in order to make a prisoner exchange.
In 2003, an Iranian-Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, died in Evin prison after she was detained while taking photographs. Her death led to a downgrading in relations between Canada and Iran.
There is currently no Canadian embassy in the country and there are no official diplomatic relations between the two nations.