Iranian authorities arrested another dual national, Iranian-German Nahid Taghavi, on October 16. Her daughter went public with the news on Twitter on October 23.
Taghavi was arrested at her home in Tehran.
IranWire interviewed Taghavi’s daughter Maryam Keralan about the arrest and her concerns for her mother's health.
Maryam Keralan tells IranWire that she has not heard from her mother since her arrest on October 16. “I don’t even know whether she is dead or alive,” she says. “I have not been able to sleep for seven days and I am going crazy.”
Keralan says not only she has not heard from her mother, the family does not know who the arresting authorities are, or what the charges against her are. “They only told my uncles that she is in solitary confinement at Evin Prison but we do not know which ward,” she says.
Nahid Taghavi, a 66-year-old architect, emigrated to Germany with her family in 1984. According to her daughter, she started traveling to Iran 15 years ago. “After her retirement in 2005 she used to go to Iran for several months, and she never had any problems until now. She used to spend six or seven months in Tehran every year and then she returned to us in Germany.”
Even after Maryam Keralan broke the news of her mother’s arrest on Twitter on October 23, neither Iranian or German officials have said anything about her, nine days on from her arrest.
Keralan says she has asked the German government for help. “As of now the German government has not been able to do anything,” she said. “I ask the German government to actively and insistently enquire from Iran about the situation of its citizen.”
Nahid Taghavi went to Tehran in September 2019, says Maryam Keralan, “and she was planning to return to Germany in March, before the start of the Iranian new year, but then coronavirus arrived and we thought she should delay her return for a while. We had no idea that coronavirus would last so long and would make traveling so difficult. Months passed, I was very unhappy and I missed my mother. Then, a couple of weeks ago, it was planned that she would return to us for Christmas.
“On the afternoon of Friday, October 16, I sent her a message and pictures of myself through WhatsApp,” Keralan tells IranWire. “She was online but did not reply. I thought she was too busy, but the next afternoon when she still had not replied I became worried about her because she suffers from high blood pleasure and had dental surgery a week earlier. I called my uncles in Shiraz. They called her, too, but got no answer. They went to Tehran on Sunday afternoon. They had the key to my mother’s home and when they went in they saw that the place had been turned upside down. Then they talked to the neighbors and that’s how they learned that they had taken away my mother.”
Taghavi’s brothers went to Evin Courthouse on the morning of Monday, October 19 but they got no answers about why she had been arrested. “The worst thing is that my mother has high blood pressure and must take medication,” says Maryam Keralan. “My uncles took her medication from her home to the courthouse but the agents there refused to accept it and said they would call them if it became necessary.”
Was her mother politically active? “As far as I know Mother was never politically active but, as a citizen, women’s rights and human rights were always important to her,” she says. “Whenever she was in Iran she did not work because she had retired in Germany. She now had enough time to return to her birthplace and live there for several months.
“What could a 66-year-old woman have done?” she asks. “This situation is intolerable. How can you arrest someone without even saying why she has been arrested, without even allowing her to call her family and just say that she is alive? Why does nobody give us any answers? I am going crazy.”
One of Many
In recent years, the Islamic Republic has arrested dual nationals from the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Australia, Lebanon and Sweden on national security charges such as “espionage” or “cooperation with hostile governments,” and handed them down heavy sentences. Many are still held at Evin Prison and other Iranian prisons. A few have been released through prisoner exchanges or as a result of political deals.
Among the former prisoners released in prisoner exchanges or after negotiations for monetary payment are Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American, Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and a resident of the US, Michael R. White, a US citizen and a navy veteran, Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American journalist and Tehran bureau chief for the Washington Post, and Amir Mirza Hekmati, an Iranian-American dual national and a former US marine.
Those still in prison include Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American, Anousheh Ashouri, a British-Iranian, Aras Amiri, a British-Iranian, Masoud Mosaheb, an Austrian-Iranian, Kamran Ghaderi, an Austrian-Iranian, Reza Eslami, a Canadian-Iranian (in Evin Prison) and Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British citizen (in Qarchak Women’s Prison).
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian, and Fariba Adelkhah, a French-Iranian, are under house arrest and forced to wear an electronic ankle bracelet. Siamak Namazi’s father Baquer Namazi is in a hospital outside prison because he is ill, but he is under surveillance and not able to leave Iran.
Except for Ahmad Reza Jalali, a Swedish-Iranian medical expert who has been sentenced to death and is being held on Ward 4 at Evin Prison, these dual nationals are facing prison sentences from between five and 10 years. And then there is the strange case of Robert Alan Levinson, the former FBI agents who disappeared on the Persian Gulf island of Kish. Iranian officials continue to claim to know nothing about his fate.