Blogger Still Held Behind Bars despite Completing Sentence as He Awaits Exile
The imprisoned blogger Mohammad Reza Pourshajari continues to be held behind bars, even though he has completed his term, as officials dither over where he will now serve his mandated post-prison exile.
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Pourshajari’s daughter, Mitra, expressed dismay at her father’s illegal imprisonment and concern over his condition.
“The formal Judiciary Order states that my father should have been freed on September 23, , but after a lot of running around the only answer we got was that his exile destination is going to be changed and until then he has to stay in prison. But that’s illegal and unfair. We want him to be released until his place of exile is determined,” Mitra told the Campaign.
Pourshajari’s case represents yet another instance of political prisoners being held past their sentence completion, in violation of Iran’s own laws.
For example, 71-year-old political activist Mohammad Hossein Rafiee, has been illegally held in detention since June 16, 2015, in connection with a prison sentence that is no longer enforceable, and 34-year-old women’s activist Bahareh Hedayat continues to be held despite release orders served by Branch 54 of the Appeals Court on August 12, 2015, upon completion of her sentence.
Mohammad Reza Pourshajari, 54, who wrote critical articles on social and political issues under the pseudonym Siamak Mehr in his blog titled “Report to the Land of Iran,” was arrested on September 12, 2010, at his home in Karaj and taken to Rajaee Shahr Prison.
In an egregious denial of due process, he was tried without being represented by a lawyer at Branch 109 of the Karaj Revolutionary Court on December 21, 2011, and sentenced to four years in prison by Judge Gholam Saraee for “acting against national security” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.”
At the end of his four-year term Pourshajari was released from prison, but arrested again 38 days later and retried on March 11, 2014, by Judge Asef Hosseini for “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security” and sentenced to one year in prison and two years in exile in Tabas.
“My father is in a very bad mental state. He has lost all hope. He says they are torturing him with all these games. He says they are probably looking for an excuse to put him on trial again on new charges,” Mitra Pourshajari said.
She told the Campaign that even though her father had been denied access to a lawyer, the family will again try to find him a lawyer who is acceptable to the judicial system.