Iran: We welcome Seifzadeh’s release; free all prisoners of conscience

Press release
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(Paris-Geneva) After nearly five years in prison, human rights lawyer Dr. Mohammad Seifzadeh was finally released on March 10, 2016. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) welcomes this release.

Mr. Mohammad Seifzadeh, is also a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC). His release comes as a result of the implementation of the provisions of the amended Islamic Penal Code of 2013, under which prisoners tried on various charges and sentenced to several prison sentences, should serve only the lengthiest sentence.

On October 29, 2010, Mr. Seifzadeh was sentenced to a nine-year prison term and 10 years ban on practice as lawyer, on charges of “acting against national security” for founding the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), and “propaganda against the regime” for having given interviews to foreign media. He was later arrested on April 23, 2011, but his prison sentence was reduced to two years on appeal.

On February 20, 2013, while serving his sentence, he was sentenced to six more years imprisonment for “propaganda against the regime” that was upheld on appeal. The new sentence was handed down as a result of a trial initiated after he wrote an open letter from prison to former President Khatami on July 21, 2011. In that letter, he had mentioned the widespread breach of the law in the judiciary and stated that there was no solution but to dissolve the illegal authorities such as the Islamic Revolution Courts and the Special Clergy Court and to reform the judiciary’s structure [1].

The Observatory had made a submission on Mr. Seifzadeh’s behalf to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asking it to recognise the arbitrary nature of his detention.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Seifzadeh faced judicial and administrative harassment in prison and calls on the Iranian authorities to end his persecution and as a first step abolish the ban on his law practice.

Furthermore, the Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders in Iran, including but not limited to: Messrs. Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad-Seddigh Kaboudvand [2], Reza Shahabi-Zakaria, Ms. Nargess Mohammadi and Ms. Bahareh Hedayat.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders.

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