The son of an Iranian-Canadian environmentalist who died in prison recounted Friday his and his brother's "chaotic" departure from Tehran while their mother was barred from leaving at the airport.
"It was very chaotic," Ramin Seyed Emami, a well-known singer, told Canadian public broadcaster CBC.
The family had checked in at the airport with 10 suitcases, five carry-ons and three dogs in crates and were waiting to board a flight to Canada via Germany when authorities "started shouting out my mother's name."
"We knew that something was wrong," Emami said.
A few moments later, he said officials "came and told us that our mother was not allowed to leave the country... and she was on some sort of list."
"My mother begged us to get on the plane," he said. "She was like, 'I just want you to be out of here and be safe.' And my brother and I were like, 'We can't leave you here.'"
"We were shouting with the authorities."
The decision to leave Iran, he said, was made after the family received threats and was harassed following the death of patriarch Kavous Seyed Emami in prison.
Iranian authorities accused the 63-year-old, a renowned professor and founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, of being part of an espionage network set up by Israel's Mossad and the CIA.
He was arrested in January. Iran says he committed suicide in his prison cell last month.
Ramin Seyed Emami said his mother, Maryam Mombeini, has been asked to report to Iran's passport and immigration offices on Saturday, where he hopes she will finally be cleared to leave the country.
Canada, which has repeatedly sought answers from Iran about the circumstances surrounding Emami's detention and death, demanded that his widow be allowed to leave.