Young Artist Who Lampooned Iranian MPs Released From Prison
Atena Faraghdani Served 18 Months for Her Facebook Cartoons
Artist and civil rights activist Atena Faraghdani was released from Evin Prison on May 3, 2016, a week before the end of her 18-month prison term.
Faraghdani was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison in June 2015 for drawing members of the Iranian Parliament as animals and posting the cartoon on her Facebook page to protest legislation against birth control.
The sentence was issued by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.
An Appeals Court subsequently reduced Faraghdani’s sentence to 18 months in prison for “propaganda against the state.” She was acquitted of “assembly and collusion against national security,” and her three-year prison sentence for “insulting the supreme leader” was suspended for four years.
She was also fined 100,000 rials (about $33 USD) for “insulting the supreme leader, the president, members of the Parliament, and the [Revolutionary Guards-controlled] Ward 2-A agents” who interrogated her.
During her imprisonment, Faraghdani was also charged with “illegitimate relations” for shaking hands with her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, in front of prison guards on June 13, 2015. But the charge was thrown out by Judge Majid Sharifzad of Branch 1166 of the Criminal Court on October 3, 2015.
In May 2014, Faraghdani exhibited paintings in Tehran to honor the people who were killed during the peaceful protests that followed the widely disputed results of Iran’s 2009 presidential election. The Green Movement grew out of those protests and is still a highly sensitive subject in Iran, referred to by hardliners as “the sedition.”
Families of political prisoners and politicians from the opposition, including Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi who has been under house arrest for over five years, visited the exhibition, which was later presented as evidence for the charge against Faraghdani of “propaganda against the state.”