Political Activist Hengameh Shahidi Held for Six Months in Solitary Without Access to Lawyer
Imprisoned political activist Hengameh Shahidi has been held in solitary confinement for six months with extremely limited access to a lawyer since June 26, 2018, the day she was taken to Tehran’s Evin Prison.
“… She has… only had two visits with her family and her lawyer,” attorney Mostafa Tork Hamadani added in an Instagram post on December 24, 2018.
“Even after she was sentenced, I have not been able to meet with her in order to prepare our petition to the Appeals Court and she has been left without the ability to give a response and defend herself,” he wrote. “Is this legal, religious, moral or in any way honorable?”
On December 10, Shahidi, a former senior advisor to former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi (under extrajudicial house arrest since February 2011) was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison primarily for criticizing Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani.
Shadidi, 43, was also banned for two years from membership in political groups and activities on social media as well as prohibited from leaving the country for two years, according to the verdict issued by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.
During Larijani’s reign (2009-2018), at least 15 political prisoners died in state custody with no one held accountable for the deaths. Journalists, activists, dissidents and anyone else accused of criticizing state officials or policies were handled with an iron fist, with thousands arrested and hundreds sentenced to prison for peaceful actions.
A Twitter account under Shahidi’s name stated the month she was sentenced that she has been imprisoned for condemning Larijani’s reign as Iran’s judiciary chief with no accountability.
“In a few days, the Appeals Court will issue a final verdict regarding Hengameh Shahidi’s case,” said a tweet on December 29. “Judge Salavati issued a heavy sentence on the orders of Larijani… because of her criticism of the judicial branch and demands for Larijani’s nine-year performance report.”
- At least 15 political prisoners have died in state custody in Iran during Sadegh Larijani’s reign as chief justice.
A post on Shahidi’s Instagram account stated that she has been suffering from an internal infection while grappling with the psychological distress of being held in isolation for several months with more than a decade of prison time hanging over her head.
“Today, Friday, December 28, 2018, is 187 days or six months and seven days since Ms. Hengameh Shahidi was put in solitary confinement and denied the most basic rights as a prisoner and suffering from kidney and intestinal infections inside [Judiciary Chief Sadegh’] Larijani’s exclusive prison,” said the post.
“Due to months of loneliness in solitary confinement, Ms. Shahidi’s psychological condition has become severely weakened and she needs to take psychological pills prescribed by doctors at the Evin Prison clinic,” continued the post.
Shahidi’s daughter, Parmiss Taherian, described her mother’s “mental and physical condition” as “acute,” via Twitter adding, “We are worried for her health” after having a time-restricted, 30-minute meeting with Shahidi in Evin Prison on December 22.
Shahidi was detained for five months in 2017 after correctly predicting in an open letter that she would be arrested ahead of that year’s presidential election. At the time, she was accused of collaborating with Amad News, a Telegram app channel operated by Iranians living outside the country.
In addition to being an advisor to Karroubi—who, as well as former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnvard—has been under house arrest since February 2011, Shahidi also worked as a journalist for the Norooz newspaper published by the reformist Etemad Melli (National Trust) Party.
She worked at Norooz until her arrest in June 2009, the year she was sentenced to six years in prison for the charges of “propagating against the regime,” “acting against national security” and “insulting the president.”
Shahidi was granted conditional release in June 2012 on medical grounds.