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Homa Hoodfar, Canadian-Iranian Professor, Says It's 'Wonderful' To Be Back

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MONTREAL — A Canadian-Iranian woman who spent nearly four months in prison in Iran says it is great to be back in Canada.

"It's wonderful to be home and reunited with family and friends again,'' Homa Hoodfar told a news conference at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport on Thursday, a few days after being released from prison and and flown to Oman.

Hoodfar, 65, said she feels frail and tired after her ordeal but is improving.

Hoodfar said she didn't believe she was actually on the way home until she was on the plane out of Iran.

homa hoodfarIranian-Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar smiles as she arrives in Montreal Sept. 29, 2016. (Photo: CP)

"Actually, I didn't feel I would be released until I was in the jet,'' she said. "As they say, in Iran, nothing is possible and everything is possible.''

And Hoodfar made it clear that returning to Iran is not in her plans.

"I think for a while I'm going to stay in Montreal,'' she said laughing.

"I love the summer in Montreal and I miss the fact that this summer I didn't have my geraniums.''

Accused of 'dabbling in feminisim'

Hoodfar had been detained since June 6 at Tehran's notorious Evin prison on allegations of "dabbling in feminism'' and security matters.

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

She travelled to Iran in February to see family and do academic research but was arrested in March, just as she was set to return to Montreal. She was released on bail and then rearrested in early June.

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

homa hoodfarHoma Hoodfar was held in Iran's Evin prison for more than 100 days. (Photo: CP)

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.

Freed on humanitarian grounds: Iran state news

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.

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.