Iran Holds Melbourne University Academic On 'Infiltration' Charge

Iran has detained an Australian-based academic on charges of trying to "infiltrate" Iranian institutions, state media said.

Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, a dual Iranian-Australian citizen who works at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, was detained recently as she was leaving Iran, the state news agency IRNA said, confirming earlier reports.

Last week, the hard-line newspaper Kayhan reported the arrest of several population "activists...who, under the cover of scientific activities, had infiltrated state bodies.”

According to Kayhan, they manipulated statistics and handed sensitive information to Iran's enemies as part of efforts at "cultural and social invasion.”

Asked about the report, judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told reporters on December 9: "One person has been arrested in this regard... and three or four people are being sought," the judiciary's news website Mizan reported.

A spokesperson for the university in Melbourne said reports of Hosseini-Chavoshi's detention were "deeply concerning.”

In October, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for greater efforts to combat enemy "infiltration" as tensions escalated with the United States after Washington withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality and does not routinely announce arrests or charges of dual nationals.

Reuters reported in 2017 that Iran had arrested at least 30 dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage charges.

Based on reporting by Reuters and