Saren Azer, the former Comox Valley doctor who is wanted by both RCMP and Interpol, was arrested last month in Iran and released on bail.
At a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday morning, Alison Azer said her ex-husband, the Canadian-Kurd also known as Salahaddin Mahummudi-Azer who allegedly abducted her four children, was detained June 12 in the province of West Azerbaijian.
Alison said the Iranian government acted on Canada’s Interpol red notice, and it is normal for international authorities to speak with the officials who requested the notice.
She added this did not happen, as RCMP requested to speak with Interpol Iran, but senior Canadian government officials blocked the request.
Alison met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in May, who assured her the accountability for the return of her children lies with him.
She also pleaded with him at the Tuesday press conference to do everything in his power to bring her four children back home; Canada does not have a formal diplomatic relationship with Iran.
Last August, Alison received word Saren hadn’t returned to Canada from a court-approved trip to Europe with her children Sharvahn, 11, Rojevahn, 10, Dersim, 7 and Meitan, 4.
In May, Saren signed his name to a nearly 1,000-world letter which said the four missing children are said to be “…well, safe and happy at last,” through an ‘Azer Children’ Facebook page.
The page, which is no longer operational, featured photos and videos of the children smiling, laughing and dancing, along with a second lengthy letter signed by Saren and directed not only to his ex-wife, but to Canadian authorities, supporters and his former patients.
Less than a month since he made himself visible via social media, Comox Valley RCMP confirmed Saren reached out to the police agency.
Police noted Saren assured them the children are safe and investigators discussed with him the manner in which that could be confirmed.
They added he answered many questions posed by investigators.
“When you’re unfamiliar with a culture and its country, you have mixed emotions,” explained Alison’s sister, Liz van Egteren, from Ottawa Tuesday. “What does this mean (Saren’s arrest) in regards to the children and to us? You’re scared to think it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
Speaking on behalf of Alison, van Egteren said there is no connection between Saren speaking to RCMP and his arrest, as it was initiated by Interpol.
As for the condition of the children, van Egteren noted the family has not received any updates “from sources for quite some time.”
“We believe they’re with family. Since the arrest, we hope they are being monitored by the Iranian embassy, but they’re still in a war zone. People will say “but the children are with their father,” but he’s a lawbreaker, a kidnapper, a liar. We want the children to have some semblance of a decent life, but not the life they have there, but the life they had with their mother back home.”
While the family has legal counsel in Iran, they have not received any updates on Saren’s bail conditions.
van Egteren added Alison and their family is “frustrated and disappointed” by the lack of action from the Prime Minister’s Office, as Trudeau told Alison the file is on his desk, and considers himself responsible for its outcome.
Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns called on Global Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion to respond to the allegations of government interference in RCMP interaction with Iranian police.
“We are deeply concerned … regarding the conduct of the Canadian government in relation to the abduction of the four Canadian Azer children,” he noted in a release.
Rachna Mishra, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada told The Record the government remains deeply concerned for the welfare of the children, and is in regular contact with Alison in pursuit of their safe return.
She added Canadian consular officials are working closely with the appropriate government authorities in Canada and abroad, including law enforcement.
“While privacy considerations prevent the department from commenting in detail, the safety and wellbeing of the Azer children are a priority for the Government of Canada.”
The Record has reached out to Saren for an interview.
Saren agreed to an interview with paper in May, contingent on the questions being sent electronically to him in advance, through the now-disabled Facebook page.
He was to reply electronically as well.
The questions were viewed, however, no response was ever returned.