September 29, 2016 - 7:06 AM
TORONTO - A retired professor who was released from an Iranian prison this week said Thursday it was wonderful to be home after a "bitter seven months" in detention that left her weak and tired.
Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian-Iranian, landed in Montreal Thursday morning. She had been detained with other Iranian dual-nationals swept up by hard-liners in Iran's security service.
"It's wonderful to be home and be reunited with family and friends again," she said at a news conference at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport.
Hoodfar, 65, was questioned and barred from leaving Iran in March after going there to visit relatives following the death of her husband. Her family said she was held in Tehran's Evin Prison since June.
Hoodfar, whose academic work concentrated on development, culture and gender in the Middle East, until recently taught anthropology and sociology at Montreal's Concordia University.
She was released and flown to the Arab Gulf nation of Oman on Monday before returning to Canada. She said the hardest thing was knowing her family would be worried and not being able to talk to them. She thanked those who helped secure her release, including the Canadian government and the sultan of Oman.
"I didn't feel that I would be released until I was on the jet because in Iran nothing is complete until it's complete," Hoodfar said.
Hoodfar said the most wonderful part of her release was seeing her niece, Amanda Ghahremani, upon landing in Oman.
"I just hugged her and felt free," she said.
In July, Iran announced indictments for Hoodfar and three others, without providing any details about the accusations. In recent weeks, Hoodfar's supporters described her health as deteriorating while she was in solitary confinement, saying she was "barely able to walk or talk."
"I feel weak and frail but better," she said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed her release in a statement this week, thanking Italy, Switzerland and Oman for their help in the matter. Canada has not had an embassy in Iran since 2012, when its then-Conservative-led government cut diplomatic ties over Tehran's contested nuclear program and other issues.
Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance. In previous cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings in Iran's Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.
Several dual nationals have been arrested in the year. Analysts have suggested Iranian hard-liners hope to use them as bargaining chips with the West.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016