French Tourist Benjamin Briere Sentenced to Eight Years In Prison

On January 25, Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad sentenced Benjamin Briere to eight years in prison. The court session had been held on January 20.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists,  French tourist Benjamin Briere who is jailed in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad City, was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of “spying” and “propaganda against the regime”. Two other charges of “spreading corruption on earth” and “drinking alcohol” were already dismissed by the court.

Briere’s lawyer, Saeed Dehghan, tweeted that “1. Just before the trial, they changed the branch where the court was going to be held, 2. the trial was not public and 3. it was quite obvious that the judge has already taken a position, 3. They mentioned the word “exchange” (apparently referring to a prisoner swap with the French government) which reveals their intention”.

Briere has been in pre-trial detention for almost 600 days.

In late December of 2021, he was denied making a phone call to his family on Christmas night and in protest, went on hunger strike.

In May 2020, Briere was arrested by security forces and has since been jailed in Vakilabad Prison.

According to Dehghan, these charges were based on actions such as taking aerial photos with a remote-controlled helicam and posing questions such as “why is the veil (Hijab) forced in Iran but not other Islamic countries”.

Jailed French Tourist Benjamin Briere Summoned to Appear in Court After 600 Days in Jail

On January 20, the trial of jailed French tourist Benjamin Briere will be held for the first time after 600 days in jail awaiting legal proceedings.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Briere is French citizen who has been jailed in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad City.

His lawyer, Saeed Dehghan, confirmed that the court session will be held and that his client will defend himself in court against the charges of “spying” and “propaganda against the regime”. Two other charges of “spreading corruption on earth” and “alcohol drinking” have already been dismissed by the court.

In May 2020, Briere was arrested by security forces and has since been jailed in Vakilabad Prison.

According to Dehghan, these charges were based on actions such as taking aerial photos with a remote-controlled helicam and posing questions like “why is the veil (Hijab) forced in Iran but not other Islamic countries”.

“Despite so many ambiguities and contradictions in this case, as his lawyer, I have been denied any access to the documents, which is disastrous,” Dehghan told HRANA.

Imprisoned French Tourist Benjamin Briere On Hunger Strike in Vakilabad Prison

French Tourist Benjamin Briere, currently imprisoned in Vakilabad Prison, Mashhad City went on hunger strike to protest being deprived of his inalienable right as a prisoner to contact his family on Christmas night.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Briere has been jailed in Vakilabad since May 2020 when he was arrested by security forces.

“What is the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad waiting for in order to proceed Benjamin Briere’s case after 570 days in detention?” his lawyer, Saeed Dehghan, asked on his personal page on social media.

Dehghan was informed about charges of spying and propaganda against the regime against his client. Two other charges of “spreading corruption on earth” and “alcohol drinking” had been already dismissed by the court.

Per Briere’s lawyer, actions such as taking aerial photos with a remote-controlled helicam and posing some questions like “why is the veil (Hijab) forced in Iran but not other Islamic countries” were invoked as examples for charges of “spying” and “propaganda against the regime” respectively during in the last court session held in February 2021.

“A report published by Figaro used the word “drone”, while he had just used a normal helicam. This mistranslation brought about some misunderstanding regarding the charges in the media. Additionally, this report wrongly called him a French-Iranian dual citizen, while he is a French citizen,” Dehghan told HRANA.

New Details Emerge on Inhumane Treatment of Lawyer and Human Rights Activist Payam Derafshan

Saeed Dehghan has revealed more details about the arrest of his colleague, lawyer and human rights activist Payam Derafshan.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Dehghan claims in a note on his personal social media page that on June 7, 2020, 17 security agents raided Derafshan’s office and arrested him.

The post says, the agents took him to a so-called safe house and then, from there, to a solitary confinement cell in detention center No 2A. There they injected him with an unknown drug causing seizure and subsequent hospitalization.

“Not just a human rights activist, (Derafshan) was the secretary of the commission for the Protection of Lawyers, which is devoted to protects the lawyers who face security and judicial issues,” Derafshan’s note reads. “On June 7, 2020, 17 security forces raided his office, inspected the office and confiscated his personal computer and other documents…From the very time of arrest through the interrogation process, the interrogators of IRGC’s intelligence unit wanted to find out why he accepted Kavous Seyed-Emami’s case…They transferred him with a blindfold to a safe house rather than a detention centre. In addition to denying access to a phone call and informing his family and lawyer, his confinement in a dark cell without any windows in summertime put the maximum mental and corporeal pressure on him. Thereafter, they transferred him to detention centre No 2A, which is at the disposal of IRGC.  Being held in a cell with always-on-bright lamps, noisy ventilation and stinky toilet and long interrogation were making sleeping hard for him.”

When Mr. Derafshan complained about this situation, he was reportedly threatened with an electric shocker and then taken to prison healthcare where he was injected with an unknown drug. This injection caused a seizure, tongue biting and subsequent fainting and internal bleeding.

According to the note, they transferred him to the hospital the following day for surgery on his tongue. Thereafter, they extended the detention period and sent him back to the public ward of Evin Prison without providing any medical treatment for recovery time after surgery. When he got seizures again, they hospitalized him in a psychiatric hospital where he received electric shocks, which not only exacerbated his seizure problem, but also caused brain damage and consciousness disorders.

On July 6, 2020,  the Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Iman Afshari sentenced Payam Derafshan to two years and six months imprisonment on the charge of “the propaganda against the regime, spreading lies and disturbing public opinions and carrying illegal shocker and sprays”. He was exonerated on the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security”. The verdict was upheld on appeal but reduced to two years grounded on the applicability of “Punishment Reduction Law”.  After issuing the sentence, he was sent on furlough and after serving one-third of his term, he was released on probation to complete the treatment process.

In a previous case, Branch 1 of Karaj Revolutionary Court had sentenced him to two years imprisonment and two years occupational deprivation as a lawyer on the charge of “offensive statements against the supreme leader of Iran”. The imprisonment was reduced to one year on appeal. The conviction was held in suspension. It is unknown whether, after the last final conviction, this previous conviction will come out of suspension.

Payam Derafshan has been the lawyer of many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience such as Muhammad Najafi, Vida Movahed, Nasrin Sotoudeh,  Kavous Seyed-Emami’s family, Fatemeh Khishavand, Sekineh Parvaneh and a number of arrestees in the nationwide protests of November 2019.

Women Prisoners of Conscience Write Letter of Condolence to Human Rights Lawyer

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Following the sudden death of Homa Soltani, the 27-year-old daughter of imprisoned human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani, a group of women prisoners of conscience in Tehran’s Evin Prison wrote a joint open letter to convey their condolences.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION
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Dear Mr Abdolfattah Soltani and Ms [Masoumeh] Dehghan [spouse of Mr Soltani and mother of Homa Soltani],

It is with great regret and sadness that we hear from our prison cells the heartbreaking news of your beloved daughter’s passing.

Enduring the pain of this loss while serving your eighth year of imprisonment will not be easy, Mr Soltani, as a bereft father and one of the most steadfast defenders of human rights and one of the most compassionate figures in this land – or for you, Ms Dehghan, a kind mother and companion and an aid to Iranian civil society.

We appreciate the scale of your suffering and bereavement. We wish patience and better days for you and your children, and demand Mr Soltani’s freedom from prison.

The list of signatories is as follows:

Nasrin Sotoudeh, Narges Mohammadi, Atena Daemi, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Azita Rafizadeh, Sima Kiani, Nazanin Zaghari and Negin Ghadamian.

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Abdolfatah Soltani was granted furlough to attend the funeral of his daughter, Homa Soltani, who died on August 3, 2018, at the age of 27 as a result of a heart attack.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Twitter in reaction to Homa Soltani’s death, and citing the human rights activities of Mr Soltani, asked “How much longer will Abdolfattah Soltani and his family be punished for defending human rights? The Iranian authorities must put an end to this injustice and release Abdolfattah Soltani immediately”.

On Sunday, August 5, 2018, Saeed Dehghan, Mr Soltani’s lawyer, wrote a letter to Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, citing the reason behind the arrest of his client was politically motivated and orchestrated by individuals such as Saeed Mortazavi (former Tehran Prosecutor General and Iran’s Prosecutor General Assistant who has been convicted of abetting the murder of a jailed protestor during the 2009 popular unrest. He has been sentenced to two years in prison). Mr Dehghan requested from Mr Rouhani to observe the law regarding the conditional release of his client.

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