Court to Issue Decision on Faraghdani’s “Illegal” Handshake with Her Lawyer
The imprisoned artist and civil activist Atena Faraghdani will soon learn the verdict in the case judicial officials brought against her after she shook her lawyer’s hand when he met with her at Evin Prison. The case, in which she was charged with “non-adultery illegitimate relations,” is set to be decided within three weeks following her October 3, 2015 closed-door trial.
Attorney Hooshang Pour-Babaee, who is representing both Faraghdani and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi, who was also charged with “illegitimate relations” for the handshake during their June 13, 2015 prison visit, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he was hopeful both his clients would be cleared of the charge by Branch 1166 of the Criminal Court at the Qods Judicial Complex in Tehran.
“I am not at liberty to give details of the trial because it was behind closed doors, but the court heard my clients’ last defense and the decision will be issued in two or three weeks. I am hopeful that my clients will be acquitted,” Pour-Babaee said.
Faraghdani, an award-winning artist, is serving a 12-year sentence for drawing a cartoon posted on her Facebook page that depicted members of the Iranian Parliament as animals.
Since the handshake-related charges, Faraghdani has been repeatedly harassed by prison staff accusing her of having sexual relations with her lawyer, Moghimi. On September 9, 2015, she went on a three-day hunger strike to protest the verbal abuse.
“We were only able to see Atena before the start of her trial [on October 3]. She looked well and in good spirits, thank God,” Faraghdani’s mother Eshrat Ardestani told the Campaign. “We hope she will be acquitted. She didn’t do anything. She just shook her lawyer’s hand to say hello.”
Faraghdani was arrested on January 10, 2015, and sentenced by Judge Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court to 12 years and 9 months in prison for “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.
In August 2015, the Cartoonists Rights Network International awarded the 2015 Courage in Cartooning Award to Faraghdani. The annual award goes to an artist “who is in great danger or has demonstrated exceptional courage in the exercise of free speech rights, or both.”