prisoner of conscience faces death threats
Amnesty International – Prisoner of conscience Mohammad Ali Taheri, who has spent over three years in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin Prison in Iran’s capital, Tehran, has been threatened with death by interrogators. He is serving a five-year prison sentence on a charge of “insulting Islamic sanctities”, in relation to his spiritual beliefs and practices.
Mohammad Ali Taheri, founder of a new spiritual group in Iran called Erfan-e-Halgheh, was arrested on 4 May 2011 by officials linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and held incommunicado for nine months in Section 2A of Evin Prison. Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicted him, on 30 October 2011, of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment, but found that his offence did not involve, as the prosecution had argued, saab ul-nabi (deliberately denigrating Prophet Mohammad) which would have carried the death penalty under the Islamic Penal Code. Amnesty International understands that the authorities have, nevertheless, continued to threaten him with death, apparently based on religious fatwas that order the killing of apostates.
Mohammad Ali Taheri has been serving his prison sentence entirely in solitary confinement and his repeated requests to be transferred to a cell shared with other inmates have been denied, leading him to undertake at least seven hunger strikes and attempt suicide four times. Except for a six-day period of leave in March 2013, his interaction with the outside world has been limited to brief bi-weekly visits from his wife in a “cabin” (behind a glass screen) and limited telephone calls, both of which have stopped since his wife was arrested on 2 July 2014 for a period of two weeks.