Academic who fled Iran when charged with visiting Israel accused of sexual abuse

4 women reportedly say they were assaulted by Kameel Ahmady, others allege repeated sexual harassment; UK-British national crossed mountain border after being sentenced to 9 years

British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady was held in Iran for three months before being released on bail on November 21, 2019. (Facebook)
British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady was held in Iran for three months before being released on bail on November 21, 2019. (Facebook)

A British-Iranian academic who said that he fled Iran after being sentenced to nine years in jail for collaborating with a hostile government has been accused of sexual abuse by a number of women, the Guardian reported Friday.

Four women said they were assaulted by Kameel Ahmady, a social anthropologist studying female genital mutilation and child marriage in Iran, and others alleged repeated sexual harassment by him, the newspaper said.

One woman told the newspaper of a serious sexual assault by the academic that was carried out over 15 years ago and not in Iran.

Ahmady denied the allegations but in a post on social media, later deleted, apologized for “mistakes” in the workplace and for “hurting people with my relaxed attitude to relationships,” the Guardian reported.

Ahmady also claimed two of his accusers had been in consensual relationships with him, but did not clarify how he could ascertain this from anonymous accusations.

According to the report, at least seven allegations against Ahmady were published anonymously on social media last year, leading to an investigation by Iran’s Sociology Association, which suspended his membership. His position as secretary of the Children Sociological Studies Group was also ended after an investigation found “at the minimum, some abuse of power had occurred.”

Ahmady said the accusations were part of a campaign to “silence my voice.”

“Since my escape from Iran, rival individuals and groups have been brought to bear upon me with the sole intention of destroying me, my research, as well as my professional and personal standing,” he said in a statement to the Guardian which did not address any specific allegations.

Earlier this month Ahmady said he escaped Iran while on bail after being sentenced.

Illustrative: Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. (CC BY-SA 2.0 Ehsan Iran/Wikipedia)

After being detained for suspected links with foreign intelligence services, he spent three months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where he said he was subjected to “so-called white torture, a psychological pressure they put on you.”

Ahmady was then released on bail and later sentenced in December last year and fined 600,000 euros ($722,000) for receiving “illegitimate funds” and working on projects with “subversive institutions,” Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported.

A December report said Ahmady was sentenced by Iran’s Revolutionary Court on charges of cooperation with European embassies in support of promoting homosexuality, visiting Israel as a reporter for the BBC, cooperation and communication with foreign and hostile media, infiltration aimed at changing the law, and sending false reports about the country to the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran.

Travel to Israel and homosexuality are both illegal in Iran. Offenders can face up to five years in prison for visiting Israel. Homosexuals can face the death penalty if they commit sexual intercourse, although there have been no reports of capital punishment for homosexuality in recent years.

Ahmady is now living in London with his wife and son, British media reported, and his appeal was thrown out in his absence.

Iran has in recent years repeatedly detained foreigners and dual nationals on charges campaigners and governments say are unfounded.

Prisoners have only been released after months and sometimes even years of painstaking negotiation.

AFP contributed to this report.

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