U.S. arrest of Iranian university professor violates human rights: ex-diplomat

January 25, 2021 - 10:47

TEHRAN - Mohsen Pakayeen, Iran’s former ambassador to Baku, has sharply criticized the U.S. for arresting Iranian university professor Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, describing it as a severe violation of human rights and freedom of expression.

"The move has no legal basis; and the arrest of university professors and international relations experts is completely contrary to freedom of expression and freedom of press and is an instance of human rights violation,” Pakayeen told Fars. 

"I believe that the international community and the institutions that claim to advocate human rights in the world should endeavor to set Afrasiabi free,” the former diplomat said, adding that the U.S. does not adhere to any international standards with regard to human rights.

Pakayeen suggested that international bodies have to condemn such acts and compel countries to meet international standards and avoid measures against human rights.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that Afrasiabi had been arrested at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts, for alleged illegal activities.

It claimed that Afrasiabi was actually a secret employee of the government of Iran and the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations (IMUN) “who was being paid to spread their propaganda”.

After his arrest, Alireza Miryoussefi, the spokesperson for the Iranian Mission to the UN, blasted the U.S. move and said the Trump administration is famous for its anti-Iran “bigotry and bias”.

“It is unfortunate to hear of the arrest of Dr. Afrasiabi on spurious charges, in the waning hours of the Trump administration, which is well-known for its anti-Iranian bigotry and bias,” Miryoussefi noted.

"Dr. Afrasiabi has not been working as an agent of the Mission and only as a university professor, and an expert on international relations," he added.

He further explained that Afrasiabi "has provided consultations to the Mission on international issues and his working relationship with us has been open and fully transparent since the beginning."

Afrasiabi was arrested after he warned a U.S. TV show host to stop belittling and insulting Iran's Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated in a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad International Airport in January 2020.