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.

A Daily Overview of Human Rights Violations in Iran for February 3, 2019

Posted on: February 3rd, 2019

The following is an overview of human rights violations in Iran on February 3rd, 2019 based on the information compiled and verified by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

(1) More than four protests have been organized across the country on February 3, 2019. The educators in the cities of Karun and Bavi in Khuzestan province, the investors of Persian Pars Company in Tehran, the customers of Iran Khodro Company, and the workers of Cham-e Shir dam in Gachsaran have held separate protests to requests their demands.

(2) The whereabouts of 20-year old who was arrested two months ago in Piranshahr on the charge of “cooperation with a Kurdish opposition group”, is still unknown. Soleiman Mohammadnejad is a resident of Gargul village in the West Azerbaijan Province.

(3) The nurses of Azadi hospital in Tehran have at least two months of unpaid wages.

(4) Mehran Bandi Amirabadi and Mehran Eslami Amirabadi, Baha’i citizens of Yazd, began their one-year prison sentence in the Yazd prison.

(5) Arjang Davoudi, 65-year-old political prisoner in Zahedan prison, is detained in quarantine ward despite his sickness and sever kidney pain. He is banned from visits, medical care, and meeting other inmates. He is serving a five-year prison term.

(6) The attorney of Parvin Mohammadi , a labor activist and the vice-president of the Free Union of Workers in Iran, announced that his client’s case has been transferred to the court after an appeal on her one-month warrant.

(7) Abubakr Rostami, political prisoner on death row in Zahedan prison, was transferred to the quarantine ward after being summoned to the prison warden’s office on Saturday. The reason of his transfer is still unknown.

(8) Mostafa Tork Hamedani, the attorney of the workers of the Social Security Organization, began his prison term. He was sentenced to 40 lashes and six-months imprisonment for the complaint filed by Saeed Mortazavi, the former general prosecutor of Tehran.

(9) Afsaneh Emami (Naseri), Baha’i citizen, was arrested at her house in Tehran. The security forces searched her house and confiscated her belongings. Her whereabouts after the arrest is still unknown.

(10) Mohammad Parvazeh and Hamid Parvazeh, citizens of Marivan, were released on bail. They were arrested on January 16 on the charge of “cooperation with a Kurdish opposition group”.

(11) The Evin prison officials refused to transfer Ahmadreza Jalali, an Iranian-Swedish doctor on death row,to the hospital despite prior arrangements. He is suspected to have Leukemia. He was arrested in 2016 accused of espionage.

(12) One worker was killed, and seven others were injured in separate incidents in Khoy and Tehran because of negligence in the oversight of safety conditions in the workplace.

(13) A prisoner who was accused of murder, was spared from hanging on gallows by consent of next of kin in Andimeshk after nine years in prison.

(14) 13 citizens who were arrested during the uprising of July 2018, received their sentences. Five of them are sentenced to one year in prison and eight others are sentenced to six months in prison. They are accused of “acting against the national security and illegal gatherings”.

(15) Pouria Sepahvand, an environmentalist and a consultant of Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, was arrested on February 3, 2019. The reason of his arrest and his whereabouts’s are still unknown.

Lawyer Sues Client’s Trial Judge, Citing Abuse of Criminal Procedure Code

Posted on: September 18th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Mostafa Tork Hamedani, attorney of Hengameh Shahidi, imprisoned journalist and human rights activist, has filed suit against the judge presiding over his client’s case.

Hamedani told Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that “once Ms. Shahidi’s case was referred to the court, I presented myself to register as her attorney, but the judge would not appoint me. So I have filed a formal complaint against this judge at the Government Employees’ Court and the Judges’ Disciplinary Court for unlawfully barring a certified lawyer from representing a client.”

Reporting that requests from himself, Shahidi, and Shahidi’s mother to appoint him as her attorney have been submitted and summarily rejected, Hamedani has continued to speak on his client’s behalf, announcing that Shahidi is still in custody and that her case has been forwarded to Revolutionary Court.

According to Hamedani, authorities are inappropriately applying a law intended to stipulate defendants’ choice of lawyers in the case of national-security crimes. “[…] the amendment to *section 48 [of criminal procedure code] only applies during preliminary investigations. Once the case is sent to a court, the amendment no longer applies. [The law] is crystal clear on this.”

ISNA quoted a report from the Tehran Prosecutor’s office stating that Shahidi was arrested June 26, 2018 on the island of Kish in Persian Gulf. It reads, “The judiciary was pursuing the defendant, who was arrested by police while attempting to conceal her face with a mask.”

In a statement released in late June, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said “[We] condemn the police violence and arbitrary arrests to which citizen-journalists have been subjected during this week’s protests in Tehran. RSF also condemns the latest arrest of journalist and blogger Hengameh Shahidi.”

Ministry of Intelligence forces arrested Shahidi on March 9, 2017, citing her collaboration with a media network.

Hamedani said that the Ministry of Intelligence was the plaintiff in the above case, and that Shahidi’s arrest warrant was issued by Branch 2 of Culture and Media Court. She was released on August 28, 2016 after six months in detention.

* In national security cases, amendment 48 to Iranian’s Code of Criminal Procedure obliges the defendant to choose a lawyer from a list pre-approved by the judiciary. Iranian authorities leverage “national security” charges against most political prisoners.