Charges Evolve against Hunger Striking Civil Rights Activist

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Farhad Meysami, a civil rights activist who has been held in Evin Prison since July 31st and declared a hunger strike the next day, now faces a new charge: “Assembly and collusion to disturb national security.”

Meysami, who has lost a significant amount of weight and suffers from low blood pressure, announced that he will resort to a liquid-only hunger strike. He explained his strike was a protest of the arrest of Reza Khandan, husband of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, earlier this week, as well as the authorities’ interrogation and home searches of civil rights activists Mohammed Reza Farhadpour and Zhila Karamzadeh Makvandi.

A source close to Meysami told HRANA that “despite visits from officials who attempted to persuade him to end the strike, such as the Assistant Prosecutor, the prison ward director, the prosecutor’s representative, and Director General of the detention centre Mr. Chahrmahali, Meysami is determined to continue. He will only be ingesting his colitis medication, as he has been doing for past 18 years.”

The source added that Meysami “would only end his hunger strike if Reza Khandan is unconditionally released.”

The same source indicated that Meysami, who is being held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, was taken to Branch 7 of Evin Court on September 3, 2018, where he learned the charges and evidence against him had evolved. Court officials announced that day that he was being charged with “Assembly and collusion to disturb national security,” for– according to the investigator–a campaign Meysami was organizing with Nasrin Sotoudeh and Iranians living abroad. Other charges included “Propaganda against the regime,” brought in relation to a speech Meysami gave at Isfahan University and articles he had published. Meysami also faces the charge of “Propagation of corruption and decadence,” a charge thought to stem from his possession of a pin-back button that reads “I protest mandatory veiling.”

HRANA previously reported on Meysami’s arrest and interrogation ordeal. His interrogators have referred to him as a “Teacher of Civil Disobedience.”