Poet to Serve Two Years in Prison For Criticizing Iran’s Supreme Leader
Editor’s Note: Mahdavifar’s two-year prison sentence was upheld by an Appeals Court on July 3, 2018.
Poet Mohammad Mahdavifar has been sentenced to two years in prison for criticizing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
In October 2017, a Revolutionary Court in Isfahan Province sentenced the dissident writer to three years in prison and four years in exile in Khash, in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, for the charges of “propaganda against the state,” “insulting the supreme leader,” “insulting Imam Khomeini,” “acting against national security,” and “collaborating with enemy states.”
On December 22, Branch 18 of the Appeals Court in Isfahan upheld his convictions for the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the supreme leader” and changed his sentence to two years in prison, a source close to the family told CHRI.
Mahdavifar, 48, is best known for his poem, “Alefba,” in which he used letters of the Persian alphabet to enumerate crimes committed by the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.
Mahdavifar had previously been arrested for various reasons, according to the source who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Said the source: “There is an open case against him for participating in the protests in Isfahan in 2014. In 2015, he was also sentenced to a year and a half in prison for his poem, ‘Alefba’ but after his appeal, he was instead fined three million tomans ($853 USD), which he paid. There is also a case against him for ‘disturbing the peace.’”
The poet was first arrested in 2014 in Kashan, Isfahan Province after ‘Alfeba’ was first published. After that, he was arrested on at least two other occasions, the last time on May 27, 2017, by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was released after five months on 100 million tomans bail ($28,500 USD).
“He was charged with ‘propaganda against the state’ and ‘insulting the supreme leader’ for writing letters to Khamenei and he was also charged with ‘spying for enemy states’ for writing a letter to Barack Obama, although the Appeals Court dropped the latter charge,” the source told CHRI.
The letter to Obama was posted on a blog that was later deleted.
In October 2017, another poet and civil rights activist, Reza Akvanian, was sentenced to three years in prison and 40 lashes for the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the sacred” by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. He has appealed the sentence.