Oxford Student Seized in Iran; 'My Husband Disappeared Trying to Board Flight to Britain'

The Evening Standard (London, England), June 23, 2009 | Go to article overview

Oxford Student Seized in Iran; 'My Husband Disappeared Trying to Board Flight to Britain'


Byline: Rashid Razaq

FEARS have been raised for an Oxford University student who was seized by Iranian security forces six days ago.

Mohammadreza Jalaeipour, 27, has not been seen or heard from since he was arrested as he tried to return to England from Tehran.

His college today appealed for an investigation into his disappearance.

Mr Jalaeipour was stopped by armed guards as he tried to board a plane with his wife, Fatameh Shams, on 17 June.

She managed to fly out but has not heard from her husband despite efforts to trace him, including calls to prisons. The couple, who are both students at Oxford's St Antony's College, are supporters of presidential challenger Mirhossein Mousavi.

Ms Shams, 26, said: "All I want to know is that he is safe. My husband went to the airport departure gate and was stopped by the security forces.

"They did not have any papers from the court or anything saying why he was being detained. They told him to turn off his mobile phone and come with them.

"As we went through control, he told me to go through separately because, if they saw us speaking, they would probably arrest me too. In the last seconds he was trying to tell me something but never got the chance."

Mr Jalaeipour, who is in his final year of a doctorate in Oriental studies, had been travelling between Oxford and Iran to campaign in the election while also studying.

Ms Shams is too terrified to return to Iran and search for her husband, fear-inshe may suffer a similar fate.

She said: "Iranian law states that every prisoner has the right to a phone call, but we have heard nothing. Internet sites for reformists are being shut down, mobile phones are having problems -- it is hard to know what is going on."

Mr Jalaeipour's brother has made enquiries at Tehran's central prison, taking personal items to give to him, but was turned away without any information on his whereabouts.

Ms Shams said: "Mohammadreza is religious and believed in peaceful protest. The only news coming out of the prison is that people are being tortured for information."

A spokesman for St Antony's College said: "We are naturally deeply concerned about the detention of our student and have written to the authorities in Iran. We have pointed out that he is a credit to the education system in Iran. St Antony's has urged that his case be investigated and that the authorities show the wisdom and compassion which must be part of all legal systems, and release him to continue his studies."

A student shot by the Iranian security forces during street protests has become a martyr after video footage of her death was posted on the internet.

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Oxford Student Seized in Iran; 'My Husband Disappeared Trying to Board Flight to Britain'
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