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Human rights activist in danger of execution

(Freedom House/IFEX) - Washington - August 24, 2010 - Freedom House is deeply concerned for the life of Iranian human rights activist, Shiva Nazar Ahari, who is scheduled to be tried on fraudulent charges before the Revolutionary Court in Iran on September 4, and demands the Iranian government release her immediately.

Nazar Ahari, spokesperson for the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), has been charged with mohareb, or rebellion against God, "anti-regime propaganda," and "acts contrary to national security," all of which she has categorically denied. Of greater concern are reports by state-run website Rajanews, accusing Shiva of working for the Mojahideen-e Khalq (MeK,) a foreign terrorist organization.

Nazar Ahari, a human rights defender who has never practiced nor advocated violence, has been fighting for human rights in Iran since she was a teenager. She was arrested at 17 for attending a candlelight vigil for the victims of 9/11 and has been harassed by authorities ever since.

"An accusation of terrorist involvement in Iran is often used by the government as a justification for execution, and we greatly fear that this may be the outcome for Ms. Nazar Ahari," said Paula Schriefer, advocacy director at Freedom House. "We demand the Iranian government drop the charges against her and release her immediately without harm."

The Revolutionary Court is notorious for non-transparent procedures and for handing down death sentences, particularly in cases involving alleged terrorism. On May 9, 2010, the Iranian regime executed five prisoners in secret, four of whom were ethnic Kurds accused of being connected to a Kurdish terrorist organization. Nazar Ahari is among hundreds of political prisoners, including more than 30 writers, bloggers, and journalists, being held in Evin prison.

Iran is ranked Not Free in "Freedom in the World 2010", Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in "Freedom of the Press 2010".

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