Body found in Hermann Park lake identified as exiled Iranian activist

Mycah Hatfield Image
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Man found dead in Hermann Park identified as exile Iranian activist
Man found dead in Hermann Park identified as exile Iranian activist.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A body found in McGovern Lake at Hermann Park on last week has been identified as a political activist and human rights advocate from Iran.

Someone in the park spotted the body of Ali Ajami, 37, floating around 10:00 a.m. on May 6.

Detectives said it is not clear how long he had been there before he was found.

His friends around the world are devastated by the news of his passing.

Longtime friend Mohammad Tootkaboni said he is in denial.

"All he wanted all the time was a simple, peaceful and just life for himself and for everyone else in the world, including his country," Tootkaboni said.

RELATED: Body of "well dressed man" pulled from Hermann Park lake.

The two met during their junior year of law school at the University of Tehran.

"We actually went through many different stages of life together," Tootkaboni said. "College in Iran, political activism, prosecution, prison and then exiled."

Ajami was sentenced to two years in prison, according to his friend, for protesting a presidential election in 2009. From there, he was exiled from his home country, went to Turkey and then moved to the U.S.

"I knew his problems," Tootkaboni said. "He was struggling with difficulties in his life as an immigrant here. In different parts of his life he told me that 'I think this is too harsh. I don't think I can keep up or continue.'"

"Me and his other friends would give him emotional support," said Tootkaboni.

An autopsy will be performed to determine how Ajami died.

The detective on the case said there is no sign of foul play or serious injury to his body. He went on to tell ABC13 that Ajami was on medication for depression.

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