“The Bloggers Must Be Acquitted and Judges Be Put on Trial”
Mohammad Seifzadeh, lawyer in the “Bloggers Case,” spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran saying despite a ruling being issued in the case, officials have not served him with the decision. Six years have passed since 21 journalists and technical staff of several websites were arrested. So far, the court has changed the presiding judge twice, just as acquittals seemed likely. There have been calls for former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, who was responsible for the court file, to be held accountable for his illegal actions in arresting the bloggers. This year, Mortazavi was suspended for his role in the transfer of some prisoners to Kahrizak detention center, where at least four died from severe torture. After several years, four of the accused bloggers have been sentenced to prison terms by lower courts.
Seifzadeh, one of the founders of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), saw the case file on the judge’s desk at Branch 434 of the appeals court and said, “I still have not reviewed the ruling. A few days ago when I was at the court, the case file was on the desk, but the ruling has not yet been issued and I am waiting for it to be handed down.”
Bloggers Omid Memarian, Roozbeh Mir Ebrahimi, Shahram Rafizadeh, and Javad Gholam Tamimi were arrested in October 2004 and are being tried on charges of “disturbing national security,” “membership in organizations which are active inside and outside the country with the aim of disrupting national security”, “propaganda against the state”, “publishing lies with the intent to create public anxiety by writing articles in illegal newspapers and websites, such as Emrooz and Gooya”, and “interviews with foreign radio stations.” The other seventeen people arrested were released after a few months.
“As I wrote in the appeal bill, an acquittal verdict must be issued for my clients. Furthermore, the offending judges in this case, one of whom is suspended, must be prosecuted and punished for their wrongdoings. Note that at the time more than 20 bloggers were arrested and a lot of noise was made back then. Finally, by the order of then President Khatami, a three-member committee was formed under the supervision of Head of the Judiciary, Hashemi Shahroudi. As far as I remember, four bloggers had apparently met with Shahroudi and Khatami, and the details of the events and talks are all reflected in the case, which I read in court,” Seifzadeh said about the case and its expected outcome.
“After all that injustice and cruelty to which the bloggers were subjected, and the illegal and immoral actions taken in the case of the four bloggers, there was a deep feeling of regret. The late Mr. Karimi Rad, the Justice Minister at the time, and one of the members of the committee announced that the suspects must all be cleared of all charges, and only four of them should stand trial based on Islamic criteria and the law. In numerous meetings, two of which were also attended by Shirin Ebadi, the Prosecutor representative failed to present any criminal evidence against the bloggers. He kept referencing the news websites for which the accused wrote, none of which were considered criminal activities,” Seifzadeh added.