Reformist Politician Abolfazl Ghadyani Ordered to Copy Out by Hand Supreme Leader’s Book
Ghadyani Sentenced to Three Years Prison in Third Conviction for Criticizing State Policies
Veteran Iranian politician Abolfazl Ghadyani has been sentenced to two years in prison for the charge of “insulting the supreme leader” and one year for the charge of “propaganda against the state,” the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
Ghadyani has also been ordered to copy out by hand three books including “Doshmanshenasi” (Enemy-ology), a collection of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s political views about his enemies.
Ghadyani will be eligible for release after serving two years after the application of Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, which states that prisoners convicted of up to three charges should serve “only the maximum punishment provided for each offense.”
“To better understand the Islamic Republic’s doctrine, I recommend that you carefully read the court’s verdict,” Ghadyani’s son, Morteza, tweeted on March 9, 2019, with a copy of the verdict issued by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran presided by Judge Iman Afshari.
The verdict is “entirely a political statement” issued by the Islamic Republic’s judicial system under the influence of the Intelligence Ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), he added.
The 73-year-old reformist politician and senior member of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution of Iran Organization (MIRIO) has been publicly critical of Khamenei’s rule and repressive state policies. The court’s ruling was based on an open letter Ghadyani wrote in February 2013 in which he described the Iranian leader as a religious “dictator.”
“For an old man like me, who spent his youth in prison for fighting for freedom and against dictatorship [before the 1979 revolution], there’s no greater pride than to spend the last years of my life on the same path,” Ghadyani wrote.
He added: “Ali Khamenei has registered his name on the list of history’s dictators and as a violator of the rights of the people of Iran. He should know that harsh prison conditions and long sentences will not discourage me from expressing my views and opposing his dictatorial rule. I will be a thorn in the eyes of dictatorship for as long as I live.”
The verdict was issued in absentia as Ghadyani refused to appear in court to protest the unjust legal process. The preliminary verdict could be appealed within 20 days.
Ghadyani Convicted for a Third Time for Criticizing Supreme Leader
This is the third time the veteran politician has been convicted of “insulting the supreme leader” and “propaganda against the state.”
The first time was in January 2011 when Ghadyani was sentenced to a year in prison, which he nearly completed before being sentenced to an additional three years in January 2012 for writing open letters that were critical of the country’s leadership.
Reza Amirkhani, the author of one of the books Ghayani has been ordered to copy by hand titled Hekayat-e Sistan (The Story of Sistan), has condemned the verdict. The book is about one of Khamenei’s official visits to Sistan and Baluchestan Province.
“First of all, a book should not be forced [on people] by a judge. A book has to find its own audience and be read by choice. If the courts are going to order books to be read as punishment, then we need to make changes in the copyright law to require prior consent from the authors,” Amirkhani wrote on Instagram on March 10, 2019.
The verdict was also criticized by Ali Asgari, the director in charge of publishing Khamenei’s speeches and writings, who said the judge showed “poor taste” in using Khamenei’s book to impose punishment.
“The Office for the Preservation and Publication of the Supreme Leader’s Works has made no recommendation to the courts to force convicts to read his books and we believe such an action is contrary to the spirit of cultural activities,” he told the Revolutionary Guards-affiliated Fars News Agency on March 11.
During a speech in March 2018, Khamenei falsely claimed, “no one under the Islamic Republic is pursued or put under pressure for being opposed to the government.”