Kavous Seyed-Emami, 63, a dual Canadian national environmentalist lost his life just two weeks after his arrest.
His son, musician Raam Emami, tweeted that his father was arrested on January 24, and that the news of his death was released to his mother, Maryam, on Friday.
Iran's judiciary on Sunday claimed that the activist committed suicide in detention because of the weight of evidence against him in a spying case. "I still can't believe this".
Illustrative: Evin Prison in Iran.
"This stems from the widespread impunity of judicial and security officials who are getting away with murder, time after time".
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES-An Iranian-Canadian university professor detained in Tehran has died in custody, activists and a family member said Sunday, marking the latest suspicious death of a detainee in Iran after a crackdown on dissent following nationwide protests. Iran says that Levinson is not in the country and that it has no further information about him, though his family holds Tehran responsible for his disappearance.
Iranian officials claimed Ghanbari (23) and Vahid Heydari (22)-both of whom died in custody after being arrested in the recent protests-were drug addicts.
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Activists say they have concerns about Iran's prisons and jails being overcrowded and risky, pointing to allegations of torture, abuse and deaths that followed the mass arrests during Iran's 2009 Green Movement protests.
Seyed-Emami presented a lecture to Lethbridge students in October, on ethnic identities and nationhood in Iran.
"Everyone is in shock", an academic who knew Emami well told AFP on condition of anonymity. He had a quite eclectic set of interests from economics, politics, very much the environment, he was a very well-rounded sociologist.
"He was one of the best professors".
Canada severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012, after its government criticized the Islamic republic's support for the Syrian regime, its "incitement to genocide" against Israel and its leaders' failure to account for their nuclear program.
Others with ties to the West detained in Iran include Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly "infiltrating" the country while doing doctoral research on Iran's Qajar dynasty. "On his return, he was called in several times" by the authorities.
Seyed-Emami is believed to have been a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen.
Meanwhile Ali Shakourirad, head of the reformist Islamic Union Party, tweeted that the death had "caused a wave of questions and concerns among the public".