Imprisoned Lawyer Seifzadeh Defends Himself for Writing Letters
In her previous interviews with the Campaign, Fatemeh Golzar, Mohammad Seifzadeh’s wife, had said the case’s investigations were complete and the case was ready for a ruling, but the court sessions were extended for unknown reasons and a ruling on the case had been withheld.
Asked why Mr. Seifzadeh participated in this court session after refusing to attend the five previous sessions, Fatemeh Golzar said, “As Mr. Seifzadeh’s case was sent to Branch 54 of Tehran Appeals Court, and in fact the Appeals Court is outside of the Revolutionary Court system, and Mr. Seifzadeh considers it a part of a legal trial, he chose to participate in this court. Of course, I and his children also asked him to give himself a chance and appear at the court. We believe that as things change in society, maybe many other things may change, too.”
Describing her family’s hopes for the ruling to be overturned, Fatemeh Golzar said, “Mr. Seifzadeh never loses hope. He is hopeful to be acquitted, but in trials such as this, the outcome is not solely determined by the defense and the process of the trial, and we cannot have an opinion about it like other cases. It depends on a lot of things, but I, too, am hopeful that there may be a turning point and, considering the changes that have taken place in the society recently, my husband may be freed along with all other political prisoners.”
Regarding the court session itself, Golzar told the Campaign, “I didn’t attend this court session. Only Mr. Seifzadeh was present. He said that he was allowed to provide a complete defense and that everything went well; but from now on, all we can do is to be hopeful.”
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.
In an earlier interview, Golzar had told the Campaign that Mohammad Seifzadeh “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.”
However, Golzar told the Campaign that the Judiciary has again issued orders to cease his prosecution on this charge. “In the latest printouts of his cases, which he receives in prison, it appears that for this charge there are orders to cease prosecution. Therefore I can say with certainty that this case is closed and Mr. Seifzadeh is not going to be tried for it,” she said.
Mohammad Seifzadeh is currently being held at Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, awaiting the court ruling on his charges of “writing letters and signing group statements.”