Iran academic arrested on security charges, ‘foreign links’

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Authorities in Iran have arrested a university professor on security charges and “suspicious foreign links,” Iranian media reported on Monday.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency identified the professor as Saeed Madani, but did not provide details or say when and where he was taken into custody. The report said the academic had met with allegedly suspicious foreign citizens and carried messages from them to local activists in Iran.

Madani, a sociology professor at Tehran’s government-run Allameh University, was also an activist, said Mehr. He was summoned by the courts several times in the past, and was once, in 2019, banned from traveling abroad.

A representative for Madani could not immediately be reached for comment.

Iran has in recent weeks intensified its crackdown on dissent, including with raids on activists. Over the weekend, a statement from award-wining filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof and others said authorities recently raided offices and homes of several filmmakers and other industry professionals, arresting some of them.

Iran’s conservative authorities, many with religious sensibilities, control all the levers of power in Iran. They have long viewed many activities as part of a “soft war” by the West against the Islamic Republic. They say Westernization is attempting to tarnish the country’s Islamic beliefs.

State media reported last Friday that authorities had arrested at least 22 demonstrators protesting sudden price hikes of subsidized staple foods. And on Saturday, Ahmad Avaei, a member of parliament from the city of Dezful in southwestern Khuzestan province, said one person was killed during the unrest.

The unrests follow Iran’s announcement earlier in the week that the cost of cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk would rise by as much as 300%, as food prices surge across the Middle East due to global supply chain snarls and Russia’s invasion of major food exporter Ukraine.

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