Quebec woman arrested in Iran dies
Last Updated Sat, 12 Jul 2003 18:07:13 MONTREAL - A Montreal photojournalist who was reportedly beaten into a coma while in police custody in Iran has died, a Foreign Affairs official confirmed Saturday.

Zahra Kazemi died of injuries suffered after her arrest on or about June 23 in Tehran, said her son, 26-year-old Stephan Hachemi of Montreal.

Friends who visited her in hospital Tuesday said she was unconscious, with cuts and bruises on her face and head.

Hachemi said his mother was taken into custody and accused of spying after taking pictures outside a jail in the Iranian capital.

On Friday, hospital officials said the 54-year-old woman had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was in a coma.

Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Lillian Thomsen said the Iranian government confirmed the news of her death Saturday. She added that Canadian officials were still trying to learn details of how Kazemi was arrested and ended up in hospital.

At the request of Kazemi's family, Canadian officials in Iran are also trying to arrange the return of her body to Canada.

Kazemi was born in Iran and moved to Montreal 10 years ago after living for several years in France. Her son said his mother had joint Canadian and Iranian citizenship.

She did freelance assignments in Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Libya, Iraq, and finally Iran.

"She was active, but she was not politically involved," said her son. "She was very aware of the situation in Tehran. All she was doing was informing people through her images," said her son. Arnold Amber, president of the group Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, called her death "a horror." He said the arrest and torture of journalists in Iran has been going on for "a long, long time." He urged the Canadian government to press Iranian authorities to find and charge whoever is responsible for Kazemi's death.
Written by CBC News Online staff