Imprisoned Editor Ehsan Mazandarani Told to File for Temporary Release With One Month Left on Sentence
A reformist journalist imprisoned in Iran who is due to be freed in less than a month has gone on a hunger strike to protest his continued incarceration.
“Ehsan Mazandarani has silently started a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment because of a mistake by the judiciary and Evin Prison officials, and the Tehran prosecutor’s refusal to grant him furlough,” tweeted attorney Hosseini Taj on October 8, 2017.
The following day, Taj tweeted that judicial officials had asked him to file a request for Mazandarani’s temporary release, even though he has less than a month left on his entire sentence.
“Judicial officials had promised the family that they would let Ehsan go free before his sentence ends, but now they are saying he should request ‘conditional release,’ which takes more than a month to process,” said a source close to the Mazandarani family, who spoke to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on October 9, 2017.
“Ehsan believes his return to prison is illegal and he should be released, but the prosecutor is completely against it even though Ehsan has problems with his health and needs medical attention,” added the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The former editor-in-chief of the reformist newspaper Farhikhtegan, Mazandarani was violently returned to Evin Prison in Tehran by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on March 11, 2017, less than a month after he was released.
The arresting agents claimed he had been released by mistake. He had already spent more than 13 months behind bars for peacefully engaging in his profession.
Mazandarani was first arrested on November 2, 2015, by the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, and sentenced to seven years in prison on April 26, 2016. He was convicted of the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.”
His sentence was reduced to two years in prison upon appeal in July 2016.
After being returned to prison on March 11, 2017, Mazandarani went on a hunger strike for more than a month to protest the “illegal, political and arbitrary action,” his lawyer told CHRI at thtime.
“Ehsan has twice lost consciousness in prison,” his mother, Azam Eghtesad, told CHRI on August 31, 2017. “His condition is critical. If anything happens to him, the Tehran prosecutor Mr. (Abbas) Jafari Dowlatabadi is responsible.”
She added: “His lawyer has asked for his early release on medical grounds. Why don’t you release him? He only has a month left on his sentence. The authorities say Ehsan must file a request for temporary release, but he refuses because he says he doesn’t want to ask for a pardon.”
On August 23, 2017, Elias Hazrati, a reformist member of Iran’s Parliament, called on the judiciary to review Mazandarani’s case in light of his poor health.
Hazrati described Mazandarani’s condition as a “negative point” for the judicial system, adding: “I wish there was an authority who would investigate these simple requests so that legislators would not have to.”
Update on October 31, 2017: Ehsan Mazandarani was freed from Evin Prison on October 31, 2017, according to his wife.