New charge brought against imprisoned journalist Narges Mohammadi
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the latest absurd charge to be brought against Narges Mohammadi in the Iranian judicial system’s continuing persecution of this journalist and human rights defender, who has been imprisoned since 2015 and has been in Zanjan prison, 300 km northwest of Tehran, since last December.
It was her brother, Mehdi Mohammadi, now a refugee in Norway, who revealed that a new charge has been brought against her. In an open letter to the Iranian judicial authorities he writes that she is accused of “dancing in prison during the days of mourning to commemorate the murder of the Shia Imam Hussein.”
“Who can believe that this woman, known by everyone to be a Muslim, would dance on a day or mourning?” he asks in the letter, in which he reports that the Zanjan city court decided “to transport the courtroom and a judge to the prison to hear her defence” on 5 May. He also writes: “She was not allowed out of prison to see a doctor, who went to her cell. She is being treated like a terrorist.”
“This persecution of Narges Mohammadi is evidence of judicial discrimination at the behest of the intelligence ministry and senior justice system officials,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk. “We call on Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, to intervene quickly and do everything possible to obtain the release of Iran’s longest-held woman journalist.”
Held ever since her arrest in May 2015, when she was the spokesperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders in Iran, Mohammadi was initially sentenced to six years in prison for “activities against national security and anti-government propaganda.” In another trial a year later, she was given an additional ten-year jail term, but she is required to serve “only” 10 of the 16 years under a law adopted in the summer of 2015 stipulating that those convicted and sentenced for several crimes serve only the longest sentence.
Additional charges had already been brought against Mohammadi since her arbitrary transfer last December from Tehran’s Evin prison to Zanjan, which was accompanied by use of violence.
Now aged 47, Mohammadi has serious health problems and for the past eight months has been denied any contact with her husband, Taghi Rahmani, and their children, who live in self-imposed exile in Paris. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo awarded her the Medal of the City of Paris in May 2016.
Iran is ranked 173rd out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.