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Canadian-Iranian prof Homa Hoodfar to return to Montreal on Thursday

Iranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar, left, arrives at Muscat airport, Oman, on Sept. 26, 2016.

Untitled/AP

Homa Hoodfar will make her long-awaited return to Canada on Thursday after spending nearly four months in an Iranian prison.

The retired Canadian-Iranian anthropology professor was released earlier this week and flown out of Iran to Oman.

Concordia University said in a statement Wednesday that Hoodfar, 65, will land early Thursday and meet reporters at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport.

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Hoodfar had been detained since June 6 at Tehran's notorious Evin prison on allegations of "dabbling in feminism" and security matters on what her family and supporters called trumped-up accusations of collaboration with a hostile government and propaganda against the state.

Hoodfar is known for her research on Muslim women in various regions of the world and a colleague suggested Monday that Iranian authorities were particularly struck by her research on homosexuality and women's sexuality in the context of Muslim countries.

Hoodfar, 65, travelled to Iran in February to see family and do archival academic research. She was arrested in March, just as she was set to return to Montreal.

She was released on bail but was rearrested in early June.

Her family had feared the worst in recent weeks, saying her health was deteriorating while in solitary confinement.

Hoodfar suffers from a neurological condition and recent reports suggested she was "barely able to walk or talk."

The state-run Oman News Agency published pictures of Hoodfar arriving in Muscat, the Omani capital, on an air force jet, walking under her own power and being greeted by her niece.

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Since Canada has no diplomatic presence in Iran, the governments of Oman, Italy and Switzerland stepped in to help secure her release.

Canada has not had an embassy in Iran since 2012, when the Stephen Harper-led Conservative government cut diplomatic ties over Tehran's contested nuclear program and other issues.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement earlier this week the Canadian government had "actively" worked for Hoodfar's release.

Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance.

Trudeau also recognized "the co-operation of those Iranian authorities" who helped her cause.

Iran's state-run news agency, IRNA, reported Monday that Hoodfar had been freed from prison on humanitarian grounds.

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Hoodfar's supporters had pressed diplomats to discuss her case during the recent United Nations General Assembly in New York and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on the sidelines of the meeting last Wednesday.

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