The Canadian government urged Iran on Monday to explain the death of an Iranian-Canadian scholar and ecologist in an Iranian prison less than a month after his arrest.

“Canada is concerned about the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Seyed-Emami. Our thoughts are with his family, “said Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Omar Alghabra on Twitter.

“Canada has asked the Iranian authorities to provide answers,” he said.

Kavous Seyed Emami, 63, director of the Persian Wildlife Foundation working to protect endangered species in Iran, was arrested with seven of his colleagues on 24 January. His death was announced by his family and on social networks on Saturday.

His son Ramin Seyed Emami, a well-known musician, said Sunday that the police had informed his mother of her “suicide” on Friday. “I do not believe in this version,” he said.

Amnesty International on Monday demanded an “independent autopsy” in the face of Tehran’s desire to “hide any evidence of torture and possible murder”.

Mr. Seyed Emami “was detained in Evin Prison where prisoners are constantly being monitored and deprived of their personal property. It would have been almost impossible for him to commit suicide, “said Deputy Director of Amnesty International Magdalena Mughrabi in a statement.

Canada and Iran closed their respective embassies in Tehran and Ottawa in 2012, following the break-up of diplomatic relations decreed by the Canadian government at the time.