Canada has launched a deportation case against a senior Iranian government official found living in Toronto, Global News has learned.
Seyed Salman Samani, 42, is facing a deportation hearing under sanctions imposed a year ago against members of Iran’s hardline regime.
The Canada Border Services Agency has asked the Immigration and Refugee Board to hold a hearing for Samani that could result in his removal.
“Samani was referred for an admissibility hearing on Nov. 10, 2023,” said Anna Pape, the Refugee Board spokesperson.
The Canadian government declined to say whether the case concerned the Seyed Salman Samani, 42, who is Iran’s deputy minister of interior.
Proceedings were scheduled to begin on Jan. 3, 2024.
He is being deported under sanctions introduced in November 2022 that banned senior members of the Iranian regime from Canada.
The Samani case is the first under the sanctions, brought in after Iran’s morality police killed Mahsa Amini for showing her hair in public.
Her death became a rallying cry against the repression of women under Iran’s clerical regime.
Canada responded by designating Iran’s government a regime engaged in “terrorism and systematic and gross human rights violations.”
The policy effectively barred tens of thousands of Iranian officials and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members from entering Canada.
The Refugee Board said the Iranian national immigration enforcement officers referred for inadmissibility hearings was born on Jan. 16, 1981.
No further information has been released about him. The CBSA declined to comment on his case, citing privacy laws.
An Iranian official by that same name was appointed Iran’s Deputy Minister of Interior in 2016. Iranian websites reported he was born on Jan. 16, 1981.
The Interior Ministry is in charge of Iran’s domestic security and police agencies, which have implicated in widespread human rights abuses.
Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi is a former general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and has been sanctioned by Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
The U.S. Treasury alleged Vahidi was responsible for police “deployed to subdue protests in Iran, including the ongoing protests over the death of Mahsa Amini.”
“In the past, Vahidi has warned Iranian women that the government’s security forces will penalize those ‘breaking rules’ in reference to hijab compliance.”
According to Samani’s profile on the interior ministry website, he is the department’s deputy minister and official spokesperson.
In 2019, he represented Iran at the United Nations, as part of a delegation that defended Tehran’s human rights record.
The delegation called Iran “one of the major victims of terrorism and at the same time one of its strongest opponents.”
Iran trains, finances and arms terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as armed militia groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, praised the Hamas killers who massacred Israelis on Oct. 7, writing on X, “We are proud of them.”
Kaveh Shahrooz, a Toronto lawyer and senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said deep connections to Iran’s regime were required to become a deputy minister.
“It’s impossible to climb the ranks like that without being loyal to the system,” said Shahrooz, adding Canada was a safe haven for regime members.
“They see it as a as an easy country to get into, to bring their money and launder their money here. And frankly, I think it’s also because our officials are just not taking this issue as seriously as they should.”
He said he was maddened but not surprised a senior Iranian official was identified in Canada. “It tells me that there’s a broken system in place in Canada.”
Canada’s ban on senior members of the Iranian regime applies to “a wide array of individuals in a regime that has perpetrated crimes against the people of Iran and other nations,” the government said.
“It includes: heads of state, members of the Cabinet, ambassadors, senior diplomats, members of the judiciary, senior military and intelligence officials and senior public servants.”
The CBSA told Global News it was launching deportation proceedings against nine Iranian officials under the sanctions brought in a year ago.
One case was withdrawn because the person left Canada, the CBSA said, and two were at the stage of scheduling hearings.
Paperwork on the remaining cases was still being prepared before it is sent the IRB, the immigration enforcement agency said.
“The CBSA cannot comment on where any person may be residing, however we can say that the CBSA only requests admissibility hearings for persons presently in Canada,” said spokesperson Guillaume Bérubé.
Meanwhile, the Refugee Board, which holds hearings to decide whether to approve deportations, confirmed it was processing two such cases.
Both involved Iranian nationals being removed from Canada under the sanctions imposed a year ago. The IRB would not provide details on the second case.
Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012 over its efforts to pursue nuclear weapons and support for terrorist groups such as Hamas.
The government has also designated Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, and the IRGC Quds Force is on Canada’s list of terrorist entities.
During the election campaign that brought him to power in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to restore diplomatic ties with Iran.
But in 2020, the IRGC shot down a passenger plane departing Tehran airport, killing 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
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