Political Prisoner Remains Jailed Two Years After Family Posts $362,000 Bail Amount
Intelligence Ministry Blocks Release of Maryam Akbari-Monfared
Two years ago the family of political prisoner Maryam Akbari-Monfared posted an unusually high bail amount for her temporary release on furlough, but her husband says Iran’s Intelligence Ministry is blocking her release from Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward, where she has been held since 2009.
“In 2014 they demanded 1.15 billion tomans ($362,000 USD) in bail to grant her furlough,” Akbari-Monfared’s husband, Hassan Jafari, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “So we went ahead and presented the deed to a property and paid for the appraisal, but they have still not allowed her to go on furlough, not even for surgery or to attend [one of our] daughters’ first day of school.”
“The court has been sitting on the property deed for two and a half years and they’re telling us that the Intelligence Ministry has not agreed to grant her furlough,” he added. “No one answers our questions. We don’t know which office to go to. We have been going to the prosecutor’s office for seven years, but we haven’t been able to meet him even once.”
Akbari-Monfared, 47, was arrested in December 2009 for her alleged involvement in Green Movement street protests and was later charged with being connected to the banned Mojahedin-e Khalgh organization (MEK, also known as MKO and PMOI). Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 15 years in prison for “waging war against God” in June 2010.
The Green Movement arose in opposition to the outcome of Iran’s 2009 presidential election, which resulted in the widely disputed victory of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Jafari said four of his wife’s siblings were executed in the 1980s for their membership in the MEK, and in 2009 she was also accused of making phone calls to her remaining bother and sister who were at the time based in the MEK’s headquarters at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
“I was in the courtroom when my wife was being tried. Judge [Abolqasem] Salavati told my wife that she was paying for her brother and sister’s activities [with the MEK in Iraq]. I was left with taking care of our three small girls, whose mother has now been imprisoned for six and a half years,” said Jafari.
Jafari told the Campaign that his wife is eligible for conditional release based on Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code. According to Article 58: “…the deciding court can issue the order of conditional release for convicts sentenced to more than ten years imprisonment after half of the sentence is served, and in other cases after one-third of the sentence is served.”
“We got a lawyer for her and requested conditional release,” said Jafari. “Her case was sent to Branch 31 of the Supreme Court in Qom, but five months later the chief judge of this branch said his court did not have jurisdiction over the case and it should be sent to Tehran where the alleged crime took place. Now we have to chase the case and see where it landed.”
Reza Akbari-Monfared, one of Maryam’s brothers, has been serving a five-year prison sentence in Rajaee Shahr Prison since December 2012 for “assembly and collusion against national security” for his alleged involvement with the MEK.
On October 16, 2016 Akbari-Monfared called for a judicial inquiry to investigate the execution of her siblings and the location where they were buried.
“Three of my brothers and one of my sisters were executed in prison in the 1980s,” she wrote in an open letter. “My youngest brother, Abdolreza Akbari-Monfared, was executed in 1980. He was only a 17-year-old high school student when he was arrested. He was charged with distributing MEK literature. Although he was sentenced to only three years in prison, he was kept incarcerated until his execution in the summer of 1988 along with scores of other prisoners.”
The letter added: “Another brother, Alireza Akbari-Monfared, was arrested on September 8, 1981 and he was tried and executed ten days later… On the seventh night of mourning for my brother Alireza, agents raided our house and arrested a number of guests as well as my mother and sister, Roghieh Akbari-Monfared. My mother was released after five months but my sister was sentenced to eight years in prison. She was executed in August 1988 near the end of her prison term… My other brother, Gholamreza Akbari-Monfared, was arrested in 1983 and died under torture in 1985.”
An investigation by the British Broadcasting Corporation Persian (BBC Persian) from 2013 estimated that—based on interviews with human rights groups and the families of the victims—close to 11,000 people were executed by the Islamic Republic between 1981 and 1985 and more than 4,000 in the summer of 1988. Many of the victims were members of the MEK.