Atena Faraghdani

Atena Faraghdani

The artist and civil activist Atena Faraghdani has developed signs of lymphatic disease in prison as she awaits her chance to challenge a 12-year prison sentence in the appeals court, according to her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi.

“The illness showed up recently and we are waiting to see if they send her to a specialist or to the prison infirmary,” Moghimi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “We hope that considering her health issues, the sentence against her will be changed in appeals court.”

Faraghdani’s case has been referred to Branch 54 of the appeals court, but no date for the trial has yet been set.

After drawing a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian Parliament as animals and posting it on her Facebook page,Faraghdani was sentenced by a Revolutionary Court on June 1, 2015, to 12 years and 9 months in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader, the President, Members of the Parliament, and the IRGC [Revolutionary Guards] Ward 2-A agents” who interrogated her.

The authorities fear social media networks, which have become hugely popular in Iran, especially among the young, and have clamped down especially hard on any content deemed even remotely critical of state policies expressed on them.

Judge Salavati, a judge routinely picked by the Judiciary to handle political cases due to the harsh sentences he hands down, presided over her case. He has also been presiding over the trial of the Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

“We will object to all the charges,” Moghimi told the Campaign. “There is a chance that the appeals court will dismiss the case or reduce her sentence.”

Faraghdani, who studied art at Alzahra University in Tehran, has been active in the area of civil and children’s rights. In addition to publishing critical opinions on her Facebook page, she visited with the families of political prisoners and protesters who were killed at the Kharizak Police Detention Center in 2009, in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed presidential election that year. She also posted videos on YouTube detailing the mistreatment of herself and other women in Evin Prison.