After Years in Solitary Confinement, Mohammad Ali Taheri Faces New Trial on Corruption on Earth Charges
Three-and-a-half years after the arrest and imprisonment of Mohammad Ali Taheri, the founder of a spiritual group who has been in Evin Prison since May 2011, the Iranian Judiciary will put him on trial again for “corruption on earth,” a charge he was acquitted of earlier, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned.
Taheri has been kept in solitary confinement since his arrest, and in November 2014, he embarked on a dry hunger strike (in which a prisoner refuses both food and water) for 25 days to protest 3.5 years in isolation inside the IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, as well as for interrogations that have been ongoing since 2011 on the charge of “corruption on earth.” The new charges could carry a possible death sentence.
“The court date has not been officially set but I’ve heard that my client’s trial is on February 25,” Mohammad Ali Taheri’s lawyer, Mohammad Alizadeh Tabatabaie, told the Campaign.
“I had a meeting with my client three weeks ago at Evin Prison and he told me he believes in all the principles of Islam and has done nothing to be accused of [corruption on earth]. Now we have to make a defense in court,” Tabatabaie added.
Fars News Agency reported on February 5, 2015, that 16 followers of Mohammad Ali Taheri’s “Erfan-e Halgheh” spiritual group were sentenced to a total of 37 years in prison on charges of “insulting the sacred,” adding that in all 40 followers of the spiritual group have been arrested.
Fars News added, “The founder of ‘Erfan-e Halgheh’ is serving his sentence at Evin Prison on charges of ‘insulting the sacred.’ His case for ‘corruption on earth’ is under review at this time and three Grand Ayatollah’s, upon request for [a] fatwa, have issued Taheri’s apostasy verdict, and his trial will be held soon.”
Mohammad Ali Taheri established “Erfan-e Halgheh,” an arts and culture institute in Tehran during the 2000s, and, using healing concepts, treated patients with psychological and medical conditions. Taheri was arrested in 2010 on charges of “acting against national security” and was held in solitary confinement for 67 days before he was released.
He was arrested again on May 4, 2011, and after three court sessions, on October 30, 2011, Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to five years in prison for “blasphemy,” to 74 lashes for “touching the wrists of female patients,” and 900 million toman in fines (approximately $300,000) for “interfering in medical science,” “earning illegitimate funds,” and “distribution of audio-visual products and use of academic titles.”
In an April 2014 open letter addressed to Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Mohammad Ali Taheri asked the Special Rapporteur to review his case.