Guilt by Association: Wife of Prominent Labor Activist Charged for Alleged Facebook Post
The wife of a prominent labor activist has been charged with posting “insulting” content on Facebook even though she insists she is not a member of the social media site, which is banned in Iran.
“They told me that during a trip to France I had posted material on Facebook against the Islamic Republic and the supreme leader,” Najibeh Salehzadeh told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “But I don’t have Facebook and I traveled to France to accompany my husband, who had been invited by a large labor organization in Europe.”
Salehzadeh’s husband, Mahmoud Salehi, is a prominent labor activist who had been arrested and imprisoned on a number of occasions in Iran for engaging in peaceful protest activities. On September 28, 2015 he was sentenced to nine years in prison for “participation in opposition assemblies and propaganda against the state.” He is currently free on bail seeking medical treatment for kidney disease.
“The honorable case judge has said that my wife and I had spread propaganda against the Islamic Republic [while we were ] in France,” wrote Salehi on his Facebook page. “For your information, the video recording of my speech to the representatives of 50 labor unions in France is available, and the honorable judge… can see clearly that the conference had nothing to do with the Islamic Republic or anyone’s sacred beliefs.”
Salehzadeh told the Campaign she was summoned to Branch 2 of the Prosecutor’s Office in Saqqez, a city in Iran’s Kurdistan Province, on June 6, 2016 and charged with “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the supreme leader.” She will remain free until her case is heard by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Saqqez. No trial date has been announced yet.
Independent unions are not allowed to function in Iran, workers are routinely fired and risk arrest for striking, and labor leaders are prosecuted under national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.