Abrupt Reversal of Ceased Prosecution Keeps Seifzadeh in Prison
The judicial orders for imprisoned lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh, charged with “illegal border exit with the intent to act against national security,” have changed from “ceased prosecution” to “guilty” without notice, causing him to remain in prison even after serving his initial sentence on separate charges.
“My husband’s two-year prison term ended on March 25 and we expected him to come home. A few months ago, he was shown a printout indicating that the status of the second case raised against him, the ‘illegal exit’ case, was ‘ceased prosecution.’ Therefore we were certain that there was no legal reason for him to remain in prison and that he would come home on March 25, but by accident . . . I found out that the orders for his second case had been changed from ‘ceased prosecution’ to ‘guilty’ and that he had to stay in prison,” Fatemeh Golzar, Seifzadeh’s wife and lawyer, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
In October 2010, Mohammad Seifzadeh, one of the founders of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, was sentenced to nine years in prison and a ten-year ban on practicing law on charges of “acting against national security through establishing the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” He was arrested in April 2011 in the city of Orumiyeh on charges of exiting the country illegally, resulting in a second case against him. An appeals court reduced the sentence from his first case to two years in prison, which he served until March 25, 2013. However, while in prison, Seifzadeh was charged with “collusion and assembly against national security” for writing critical letters and signing several group statements—a third case. Four court sessions were held to review these charges, but each time Seifzadeh refused to appear in court to present his defense, because he does not consider the Revolutionary Court qualified to judge the case. In March, the court announced an additional six-year sentence for the charges in the third case, but an appeals court ruling on sentencing is pending.
“He could have been released from prison on March 25 until the appeals court ruling for his third case was announced, upholding or reducing his six-year prison ruling, or even acquitting him. But this possibility was denied to him after the court case for ‘illegal exit’ was put in motion again,” Golzar added.
“If his case is not reviewed by a competent and impartial court, as my client has requested, as in his other cases he will not defend himself. He wrote a letter to Mr. Avaei, Deputy Head of the Judiciary, about this matter, and I took the letter to his office in March, but because of the [Iranian] New Year holidays I still don’t know what Mr. Avaei’s decision is about this matter. But if he won’t refer this case to an impartial court for review, Seifzadeh won’t present a defense,” Seifzadeh’s wife and lawyer told the Campaign.
Fatemeh Golzar described her husband’s current physical condition as unacceptable, considering his age and the conditions at the Karaj Rajaee Shahr Prison, where he is being held.