Civil Rights Activist Imprisoned for Social Media Postings Released on Bail
Civil rights activist Esmail “Zartosht” Ahmadi-Ragheb—detained in Evin Prison since January 2016 for criticizing Iranian politics on social media—was released on January 8, 2017 until his trial. While imprisoned, the 52-year-old endured a two-week hunger strike to convince the authorities to transfer him from solitary confinement to a public ward, he told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Ahmadi-Ragheb, who has peacefully advocated against the death penalty and for political prisoners, was arrested on January 12, 2016 by agents of the Intelligence Ministry and interrogated for 20 days in Ward 209.
The now unemployed father of two told the Campaign that he had to post 100 million tomans ($31,000 USD) bail for his release. He lost his job as a municipal employee in the city of Shahriar, Tehran Province, after being sentenced to six months imprisonment in March 2016 for “propaganda against the state” by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court for the content of his social media postings.
“One of the things I had mentioned a lot in my Facebook posts was the term ‘religious dictatorship,’ he said in March 2016. “That was used as evidence, along with my participation in a rally in support of [human rights lawyer] Nasrin Sotoudeh in front of the Bar Association, as well as my meeting with the mother of Sattar Beheshti [a blogger murdered by his interrogators in prison], and my participation in demonstrations in support of political prisoners.”
“They told me all these activities were illegal,” he added.
*On Jan. 12, 2017 at 1:42 p.m. EST this article was revised to reflect that Esmail “Zartosht” Ahmadi-Ragheb was arrested by agents of the Intelligence Ministry, not the Revolutionary Guards.