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Iran's "information hero" sentenced to over a decade in jail

Narges Mohammadi was sentenced to five years in prison for “meeting and conspiring against the Islamic Republic,” one year for “anti-government propaganda” and ten years for working with Legam, an outlawed campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran.

Narges Mohammadi
Narges Mohammadi

AP Photo/Keystone/Magali Girardin

This statement was originally published on on 19 May 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by the ten-year jail sentence that a Tehran judge has just passed on Narges Mohammadi, a journalist and spokesperson for Iran's Centre for Human Rights Defenders.

Her family was notified yesterday of the sentence, the outcome of a flawed trial held under the influence of the intelligence ministry and Revolutionary Guards before a Tehran revolutionary court on 20 April.

“Narges Mohammadi is an information hero who is a credit to journalism and the defence of human rights,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Such a heavy sentence shows the iniquitous character of Iranian justice. President Rouhani cannot remain silent in the face of such a judicial outrage even if everyone knows the judicial systems takes its orders from the Supreme Leader.”

Mohammadi was sentenced to five years in prison for “meeting and conspiring against the Islamic Republic,” one year for “anti-government propaganda” and ten years for working with Legam, an outlawed campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran.

This totals 16 years but, under a law adopted in 2015, a person sentenced to several jail terms serves only the severest one so, in practice, Mohammadi was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Her husband, Taghi Rahmani, told RSF: “This sentence is an act of revenge against not only Narges but also all of Iran's civil society. It was arranged jointly by the Revolutionary Guards and the intelligence ministry to intimidate activists who provide information about human rights violations in Iran, including the situation of prisoners of conscience.”

At an event that RSF organized at the Théâtre du Rond Point in Paris on 2 May, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo awarded the City of Paris medal to four journalists proposed by RSF. One of them was Mohammadi, who sent a poignant message to the event from her Tehran cell.

Mohammadi has spent many long periods in prison in connection with her human rights activism since 1998. Her current spell in prison began in May 2015.

Her health is in danger but she is being denied the medical treatment she needs. In October 2015, she was taken from prison to a Tehran hospital, where she spent ten days handcuffed to a bed before being returned to prison against medical advice.

Ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index, Iran continues to be one of the world's five biggest prisons for journalists, with a total of 30 professional and citizen-journalists currently detained.

What other IFEX members are saying
  • Iran: journalist to serve up to 10 more years in prison

    Mohammadi is the mother of eight-year-old twins, and the wife of prominent journalist and activist Taghi Rahmani, who has spent a total of 17 years in prison. Taghi Rahmani left the country in May 2011 following escalating pressure from the authorities. Their children joined him in July 2015. She is an honorary member of Danish PEN and Belgian PEN. In May 2016, she wrote a moving letter to the PEN community, calling on the PEN membership to take a stand against the use of solitary confinement as a means of torture.

  • Iran: Human rights defender Narges Mohammadi sentenced to 16 years in prison

    On 17 May 2016, the verdict was communicated to Mohammadi’s lawyer on several charges. She received a 10-year sentence for “membership in the Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty,” (LEGAM), a group campaigning against the death penalty in Iran that she founded, which has since been closed. She also received five years for alleged “collusion and assembly against national security” and one year for “spreading propaganda against the system,” according to Amnesty International.

  • Letter from imprisoned Iranian journalist Narges Mohammadi to the PEN membership

    I urge all of you, as writers and defenders of the principles of free thought and freedom of speech and expression, to combat the use of solitary confinement as torture, with your pen, speech and all other means. Maybe one day we will be able to close the doors behind us on solitary confinement and no one will be sentenced to prison for criticizing and demanding reforms. I hope that day will come soon.

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