Annual Report of Prosecuted Lawyers in Iran

Posted on: June 11th, 2019

 

The following is an overview of the prosecuted human rights lawyers in Iran in 2018. According to Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer, lack of judicial immunity, prosecuting defendant lawyers, and absence of union support for lawyers are some of the issues that put pressure on lawyers in Iran.

This report focuses on analyzing the situation of the lawyers who accepted cases with political, faith, or security chargers. These lawyers are in prison or are temporarily released on bail waiting for their trial.

Amir Salar Davoudi

On June 1, 2019, Amir Salar Davoudi, lawyer and civil rights activist, was sentenced to 111 lashes and 30 years in prison of which the highest penalty is 15 years imprisonment for the charge of “establishing a channel in the Telegram app”. Davoudi has been detained since November 2018 on the charges of “insulting officials”, “propaganda against the state”, “cooperating with enemy states through interviewing with Voice of America (VOA) television channel”, and “forming a group to overthrow the state”. He has been sentenced at the Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court to 30 years in prison for several charges which according to the Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, he should serve the sentence for the charge with the highest penalty which is 15 years in prison on the charge of “establishing a channel in the Telegram group app”. He has decided not to appeal this sentence.

Davoudi who has been retained as counsel by several detainees held on politically motivated charges in Iran was arrested by security agents in his office on November 20, 2018. The security agents also searched Davoudi’s home and office and took away some of his personal belongings. He had been taken in for questioning on previous occasions and had been warned not to inform the public about his clients’ politically sensitive cases. The second session of his trial was held on May 4, 2018 at the Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer, was arrested on June 13, 2018 in her house. The Branch 38 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Sotoodeh to a five-year prison term and then the verdict was transferred to the Branch 36 of the Tehran’s appeals court. She is imprisoned in the Women Ward of Evin prison being accused for seven charges for her second case and is sentenced to 33 years and six months in prison and 148 lashes though only 12 years of this verdict is executable.

Mohammad Najafi

Mohammad Najafi, attorney and human rights activist was sentenced to 19 years imprisonments. He is serving his three years sentence in prison and faced 74 lashes and 16 more years imprisonment in January 2019 for his new charge of “spreading falsehood and disturbing public opinion”, “insulting the Supreme Leader”, “propaganda against the state”, “cooperating with enemy states through interviewing with Voice of America (VOA) television channel”.

On October 28, 2018, Najafi was arrested and transferred to Arak Prison to serve his sentences. He was previously detained along with 10 others for participating in the January protests in Shazand County. Judge Mohammad Reza Abdollahi of Arak Criminal Court No. 2, the Branch 102 sentenced Najafi to three years in prison and 74 lashes for “publishing lies with intent to disrupt the public opinion” and “disturbing the public peace.” The sentences were upheld in the Branch one of Markazi province Appeals Court.

Najafi got wind of his new “publishing lies” accusation via a writ he received on October 13th from the Branch 1 of Shazand Investigation and Prosecutions office, where he was interrogated and ultimately charged for it. He has additional charges pending investigation in the Revolutionary Court of Arak.

Najafi was previously detained for inquiring into the death of Vahid Heydari, who died in Police Detention Center amid the January protests. Najafi challenged Iranian judicial authorities who had claimed Heydari was a drug dealer that committed suicide while in custody. Najafi’s interviews with Heydari’s loved ones suggest that Heydari was a street peddler with no criminal record, whose autopsy report showed none of the typical markers of suicide but did indicate head injuries consistent with blunt-force trauma.

Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeghi accused security authorities of fabricating the grounds for Najafi’s case, arguing that Najafi had simply proven that Heydari was not a drug dealer.

Farhad Mohammadi

On January 2, 2019, Farhad Mohammadi, a Kurdish human rights lawyer and secretary of the National Unity Party in Kurdistan, was arrested in Sanandaj, Kurdistan Province by security agents. The reasons for his arrest, his place of detention, and the charges pending against him are not yet known. He is also an environmental activist. His arrest warrant was extended on February 3, 2019.

Mostafa Daneshjoo

Mostafa Daneshjou, the detained lawyer of the Gonabadi Dervishes, was sentenced to eight years in prison on December 16, 2018 on charges of “membership in the Dervish cult,” “acting against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “disturbing the public opinion”.

Seven armed agents arrested Daneshjoo in his mother’s home on July 7, 2019, taking him to solitary confinement in Evin Prison’s Ward 209 where he was detained for 45 days. He was then sent to Ward 4, typically designated for convicts of financial crimes. He was arrested pursuant to a case filed against him in 2017 in Tehran’s Security Investigation Court, in connection to a violent clash that took place February 2018 near the Dervish spiritual leader’s residence in Golestan Avenue in Tehran.

He was denied medical care for his severe heart disease in January 2019.  Symptoms of Daneshjoo’s asthma were exacerbated by his stay in Evin Prison’s Ward 250 between 2011 and 2015. Despite orders from the assistant prosecutor to send Daneshjoo to a healthcare facility, Evin Prison authorities have barred his transfer.

Per a letter from the security office at Azad University, Daneshjoo’s alma mater, he has been barred from continuing his studies. Citing his defense of the Gonabadi Dervish religious minority, security authorities have revoked his permit to practice law.

Mostafa Tork Hamedani 

Mostafa Tork Hamedani, is an attorney who has been sentenced to six months imprisonment in Iran for allegedly slandering a former prosecutor on January 15. 2019. The preliminary sentence against him was 10 months in prison and 40 lashes but on January 15, 2019 his sentence was reduced to four months with the flogging sentence suspended for one year. He was released on January 21, 2019, in the process of pardoning prisoners with less than a year sentence.

Hamedani was prosecuted based on a lawsuit brought by former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, who accused Hamedani had made public accusations against him before Mortazavi was convicted in a financial case regarding corruption during the period Mortazavi headed the Iran’s Social Security Organization (SSO) between 2011to 2013.

Arash Keykhosravi and Ghasem Sholeh Saadi

Attorneys, Arash Keykhosravi and Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, were arrested along several other lawyers and civil rights activists who gathered in front of the Iranian Parliament building to protest both the Caspian Sea Agreement and the Guardian Council’s vetting process on August 18, 2018. They were transferred to the Great Tehran Penitentiary after being charged at the Branch five of the Evin Prosecutor’s Office. Keykhosravi and Sholeh Saadi were released on bail on December 11 and December 4, 2018 respectively. They were sentenced to six years jail time on December 10, 2018 on the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security”. Their appeal request was sent to the Branch 34 Tehran appeals court.

Notably, Ghasem Shole-Saadi previously served two terms in the Islamic Consultative Assembly and was convicted of “insulting the Supreme Leader” via a letter he notoriously published in 2002. He has been imprisoned several times on charges from the Revolutionary Court for “propaganda against the state”.

Keykhosravi has represented several high-profile human rights cases throughout his career, including the suspicious death of environmentalist Kavous Seyed-Emami in Tehran’s Evin Prison in February 2018.

Masoud Shams Nejad

Masoud Shamsnejad, lawyer and professor, was arrested on January 8, 2019 and transferred to the Ward 3-4 of Urmia Prison on January 17, 2019. The security guards raided his home and confiscated his belongings at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment by The Branch three of Urmia Revolutionary Court on February 10, 2019 on the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “membership in an opposition group”. He was under pressure for the cases he accepted to defend. After he requested for appeal, he was released on one billion Tomans bail on February 17, 2019.

Zeinab Taheri

Zeinab Taheri, is a lawyer who was charged with “publishing lies with intent to disturb the public opinion” and “propaganda against the state,” in an indictment prepared by the Prosecutor’s Office for Culture and Media that referred her case to The Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court in Tehran.

Taheri was summoned and arrested on June 19, 2018 and then was transferred to the Qarchack Prison. She was arrested a day after her client, Mohammad Reza Salas Babajani, a Sufi dervish was executed on June 18, 2018. Salaj Babajani was executed for allegedly driving a bus that killed three members of the security forces near the house of a Dervish spiritual leader on 19 February 2018.

Taheri was released on bail on August 8, 2018. She had cases such as Mohammad Reza Salas Babajani, Mohammad Ali Taheri, and Ahmad Jalali.

Payam Derafshan and Farokh Forouzan

Lawyers, Payam Derafshan and Farokh Dorouzan were arrested on August 31,2018 and were released on bail on September 6, 2018. Derafshan was the lawyer of Mohammad Najafi and Kavous Seyed Emami. Forouzan was also a children’s rights activist.

Hoda Amid

Hoda Amid, attorney and women’s right activist, was arrested on September 1, 2018 by the security forces and was transferred to the Evin Prison. She was released on bail on November 4, 2018. It has been claimed that Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi had held a workshop for women on “Marriage Article (conditions stipulated in marriage certificate)”.

Hossein Ahmadi Niaz

Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, lawyer, was summoned to the Branch 106 of Criminal Court of Sanandaj on the charge of “publishing falsehood” and “disturbing public opinion” on January 15, 2019.

Last year, he was arrested after being referred to the Revolutionary Court of Sanandaj on August 05, 2018 and was released on bail after a few hours.

Farzaneh Zeilabi

On February 8, 2019, Esmail Bakhshi’s lawyer, Farzaneh Zilabi, was summoned to the Branch three of the Revolutionary and Civil Court of the city of Shush to answer questions as a “knowledgeable person” about the case. She said on February 17, 2019 after going to court “I was summoned based on a report by the Justice Bureau’s Security Department and the summon was in connection with an interview during which the subject of Esmail Bakhshi’s torture was brought up. Considering the accusations in the report, such as “spreading falsehood” and “propaganda against the state”, I refused to answer questions that the report had directly addressed to me”. She explained that the case is ongoing, and, as Bakhshi’s lawyer, she was not able to divulge confidential information about her client to anyone. If she did, she would be both breaking the law and violating disciplinary codes of conduct. She added that she will stay Bakhshi’s lawyer.

Esmail Bakhshi, a labor activist, who spoke out about abuse and torture he suffered in detention.

Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei

Judge Salavati accused Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei with “spreading falsehood and disturbing public opinion” in the Branch 15 of Revolutionary Court of Tehran. Alizadeh Tabatabaei said on February 20, 2019 that this is following his complaint against Salavati in which Salavati had claimed that he never asked the accused in “Mola Tina” case to change their lawyer and I was spreading falsehood by saying that.

Three Board Members of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) were Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

Posted on: May 21st, 2019

Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and Keyvan Bajan were charged with “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security.” They were sentenced to 18 years in prison, combined.

The trial of the three writers was held earlier at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. They were arrested on January 22, 2019 after being subpoenaed on the “encouraging immorality or prostitution” and security-related charges. They were released from Evin prison a few days after on bail.

The trial led by Judge Moghiseh at the Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and Keyvan Bajan were sentenced to one-year imprisonment for “propaganda against the state” and to five years imprisonment for “assembly and collusion against national security”. Their attorneys, Naser Zarafshan and Razieh Zeidi were informed of the verdict. In an announcement, the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) has condemned the verdict.

The IWA was an independent group of authors, poets, editors and translators based in Iran which was formed in May 1968 to fight against state censorship. Government have continuously persecuted its members after Islamic revoloution. In 1998, several IWA members, including opposition politicians, Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari, and writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh were murdered.

An investigation concluded that the murders had been carried out by authorities of the Intelligence Ministry. A number of ministry officials were arrested, and information about the murders was leaked to the media. During a judicial inquiry, the prosecution confirmed that the chain murders were part of a systematic policy to physically eliminate political and cultural dissidents of Iran.

 

Azerbaijani Activist Mohammad Khakpour Summoned to Ardabil Prosecutor’s Office

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Azerbaijani activist Mohammad Khakpour received a writ dated November 14th, ordering him under threat of arrest to appear at Branch 1 of the Ardabil Investigation and Prosecution Office within the next five days.

Khakpour was among a group of Ardabil residents arrested for their participation in Azerbaijani cultural gatherings last July. Marking the season of annual crackdowns on these gatherings — which in recent years have gravitated to Babak Fort — at least 80 Azerbaijani activists were arrested that month. Khakpour was held in custody for three days.

Fort Babak, a monument built during the pre-Islamic Sasanian period, is the namesake of Babak Khorramdin, who led an uprising against the Abbasid caliphate in 893. In recent years, it has become a place of symbolic gathering for Azerbaijani activists, especially during annual commemorations held in the first week of July.

CCTSI Rallies Teachers into Second Round of Strikes

Posted on: November 15th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The Coordinating Council of Teacher Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) rallied educators across the country into a second round of general strikes November 13th, mobilizing in protest of the “Full-Time Teacher” bill, which continues to move forward despite significant pushback.

Strike activity was reported in several provinces, as teacher-activists and their allies staged sit-ins in the principal’s offices of their respective schools. “The goal of the sit-in,” a CCTSI statement read, “is to oblige our rulers to uphold the constitution by providing free, quality, and accessible education to students, and to stop their attack on the livelihood of teachers.”

CCTSI and their sympathizers voiced similar demands during a first round of strikes in October of this year.

Teachers made their demands known on handheld placards protesting low teacher salaries, environmental conditions unsuitable for learning, the Full-Time Teacher Bill, class discrimination in the education system, privatization, language discrimination, and the continued persecution of teacher-activists.

From Evin Prison, Vice President of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders Narges Mohammadi sent a message in support of the strikers:

“The children of this land learn “D E C E N C Y” from their teachers, and a teacher’s [decency] manifests in free expression and conscience.

The children of this land learn “P E A C E” and “F U L F I L L M E N T” from their teachers, and their teachers’ fulfillment lies in a humane, dignified life.

We support the teachers’ general strike of November 13 and 14, to free the fettered “T E A C H E R,” to elevate the teacher’s status, and preserve the right to peaceful protest.

Narges Mohammadi”

Masoud Kazemi and Hashem Khastar Released from Custody

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Journalist Masoud Kazemi was released on bail Sunday, November 11th. He was arrested in his home November 5th, one day after tweeting critical remarks about Iranian authorities. Kazemi is the editor-in-chief of Sedaye Parsi, a monthly political magazine.

Retired teacher and current union activist Hashem Khastar, who was arrested and sequestered in Mashhad’s Ibn Sina hospital psychiatric ward for unknown reasons October 23rd, was released November 10th. He has no history of mental illness.

Hashem Khastar

During his forced hospital admission, Khastar’s family and friends were arrested for gathering outside Ibn Sina to demand his release.

On June 21, 2018, Khastar was placed in a Security Police detention center on Abbas Abad (formerly Vozara) street for participating in silent teacher protests. In 2009, he was arrested in connection to widespread protests following that year’s Iranian presidential elections and was fined by Iranian courts for two letters he wrote from Vakilabad Prison. He was released, only to be arrested again later for refusing to pay the fine.

Journalist’s Death Attributed to Travel and Healthcare Restrictions

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Hamid Houshangi, former journalist and director at the state-run news agency, IRNA, passed away Thursday, November 8th of cancer. He was 70.

At the time of his death, Houshangi was facing a two-year prison sentence. In a note published September 2nd of this year, Houshangi drew attention to a writ in which he was summoned to serve the sentence despite his diagnosis.

The cancer diagnosis came at about the same time as his prison sentence — ruled by Judge Moghiseh on October 2, 2016 — for charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “gathering and colluding against national security.” The sentence was upheld a few months later by Judge Zargar of Appeals Court Branch 36.

Referred throughout his cancer treatment to resources that could only be obtained abroad, Houshangi never broke free of a two-year stalemate with judicial authorities who refused to let him seek care outside Iran.

Houshangi started his journalism career with Iranian national radio and television in 1973.

Former Civil Servant to Begin Prison Sentence

Posted on: November 12th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Former political prisoner and ex-public official Feizollah Arabsorkhi has been summoned to begin his one-year prison sentence within the next five days.

Arabsorkhi was tried on charges of “propaganda against the regime” by Judge Ahmadzadeh in August of 2015 and issued a two-year ban on civic activities in addition to his one-year prison term.

Arabsorkhi has speculated that the charges are a vindictive move from the Intelligence Unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in response to his signature on a letter once published from prison.

In protest of the highly-contested Iranian presidential election of 2009, Arabsorkhi co-authored a letter with a number of political activists, interpreting a speech by security-judiciary agent Commander Moshfegh as evidence of corruption both before and after the ballots had been cast. Later arrested by the IRGC, he was convicted in Revolutionary Court Branch 15 of “propaganda against the regime” and “assembling and colluding against national security” in July of that year. He was released from Evin Prison in 2013 after completing his sentence.

Born September 23, 1958, Arabsorkhi holds a bachelor’s degree in social communications and membership in the reformist political group Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution. He has served both on the cabinet of Mir-Hossein Mousavi as general manager of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance security office, and in the Khatami administration [1997 – 2005] as deputy trade minister for the Ministry of Commerce.

Zanjan Revolutionary Court Acquits Civil Rights Activist Safiyeh Gharebaghi

Posted on: November 9th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – “I was acquitted!” wrote Safiyeh Gharebaghi, a Zanjan-based civil rights activist, on November 6th. That day, Judge Siyadi of Zanjan Revolutionary Court Branch 1 acquitted her of all charges, namely propaganda against the regime and gathering and conspiring against national security.

Quoting an excerpt of the court’s ruling, Gharebaghi said the verdict legitimized her right to dissent under Iranian law:

“‘[…]This court, considering the criticism of certain laws and procedures, even legal judgments, to be the incontrovertible right of every individual and legal entity, and considering that the crime’s spiritual basis was devoid of criminal intent, rejects the defendant’s charges and hereby announces its ruling to acquit.”

No verdict has yet been issued on Gharebaghi’s separate case in Zanjan General Court, where she faces charges of spreading lies and disrupting the public mind.

Gharebaghi was initially detained by the Zanjan Intelligence Office in 2017 on charges of propaganda against the regime in cyberspace, abetting sedition, and spreading lies. Her cited infractions included protesting gender inequality, voicing support of political prisoners and the sedition movement, and signing a condolence letter for the late father of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Reporter Vahid Ahang Released on Bail

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Vahid Ahang, a reporter jailed pursuant to a complaint filed by the Dishmok municipality, has been released after posting a bail of 50 million tomans [approximately $3,000 USD].

An informed source told HRANA that Ahang was arrested on October 31st and interrogated the same day from eight in the morning until noon. Judge Javad Parhizgar and his secretary were reportedly hostile towards him, refusing to accept Ahang’s bail even after the Dishmok mayor and county governor came forward to withdraw the complaint. Parhizgar was reportedly worn down by several follow-ups from Ahang’s family, the source said.

Ahang’s byline precedes previous reports of mistreatment from visitors to Judge Parhizgar’s office.

Women’s Rights Activist Najmeh Vahedi Released On Bail

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- On November 6, 2018, women’s rights activist and sociology graduate Najmeh Vahedi, who was arrested in her home by security forces on September 1st, was released on bail pending trial.

Vahedi was one of many snared in the judiciary’s recently-revived sanctions on women’s rights activists. With her comrade Hoda Amid, Vahedi had reportedly held educational training workshops for women inquiring about their rights in marriage contracts.

Human Rights Watch issued a statement on September 5th of this year asking Iranian authorities to stop the repression of human rights defenders like Amid and Vahedi and to immediately release those who are in custody for peaceful expressions of dissent. Later that month, 750 civil rights activists inside and outside Iran issued a statement condemning the persecution of women’s rights defenders, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

Last week, the voice of Amnesty International joined the outcry against the civil crackdowns, demanding that affected prisoners be immediately released and that defendants not be limited to a list of regime-designated attorneys.