OTTAWA,(Reuters) – Canada said on Wednesday that Iran had freed prominent Canadian-Iranian writer Ramin Jahanbegloo, who was arrested in Tehran four months ago and accused of spying.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs is pleased that professor Ramin Jahanbegloo has been released from detention in Iran,” said spokesman Rodney Moore. He declined to comment further.
Jahanbegloo’s release on Wednesday was first reported by Iranian news agencies. Canada, whose relations with Tehran are bad, had asked Iran to either free or charge the writer.
A senior Iranian judiciary official was quoted as saying earlier this month that Jahanbegloo had confessed to trying to undermine the Islamic Republic’s system of clerical rule and had apologized.
The case put further strain on Iran’s ties with Canada, which have been icy since Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in detention in Iran in 2003 after being arrested for photographing Tehran’s Evin prison.
Jahanbegloo has worked and lectured on democracy in Iran and how the Islamic Republic can engage with the West. He has also written on the importance of acknowledging the Holocaust.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has questioned whether the Holocaust happened.
The European Union and human rights groups had criticized Iran’s treatment of Jahanbegloo. Some Western diplomats said his arrest was aimed at intimidating and silencing critics of the government.
Last month, Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay complained Iran was showing “out-and-out contempt for Canada” by ignoring Ottawa whenever it tried to raise the case.