No Furlough Allowed for Journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi
Mohammad Sharif, a lawyer who represents many political prisoners and is one of the founders of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about his client Ahmad Zeidabadi’s case. “Since his sentence was upheld [by the appeals court] there have been no new developments in his case. The latest development was that I tried to get approval for his furlough leave [for the Iranian New Year, Nowruz], which, unfortunately, was not granted. So, he is now in Rajaee Shahr Prison and is serving his sentence term along with other political prisoners,” Sharif told the Campaign.
“Basically, they did not agree with the leave, and so bail was not discussed, either. During the time between the lower court sentencing and the appeals court ruling, a series of actions were taken to set bail for him. They changed bail courts three times and each time the family of Mr. Zeidabadi would provide the bail, and each time they had to pay a large amount of money for the fees of expert property evaluations for the several bails. Even so, they did not agree to release him on bail until the final verdict was issued. He has been in prison since he was first arrested, and he has remained in prison throughout his lower court and appeals court ruling. Once the sentence was final, they said that he was now serving his term. The other attempt I made was for his leave, and as I mentioned, basically, this year I was unsuccessful [to get prison furlough for Nowruz] for Hoda Saber, several of my clients from other provinces, and for Mr. Zeidabadi,” said Sharif.
“The last time I asked for leave for him was at Nowruz [Iranian New Year, March 21]. I had asked previously, too. During several meetings with the Judge, I asked him whether these clients of mine could have furlough leave or not, and each time I faced a negative reply. I knew what it meant. For the New Year’s holidays, he acted himself. I had the meetings, too, hoping that I could get him furlough leave, but unfortunately, they did not agree,” he added.
Journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi was arrested on 14 June 2009 in front of his home and has not been allowed prison leave so far. On 2 January 2010, Judge Pirabbasi sentenced Zeidabadi to six years in prison, five years’ exile in Gonabad, and a lifetime ban on social and political activities. An appeals court upheld Zeidabadi’s sentence in full. Zeidabadi’s bail was increased from $250,000 to $500,000; even so, the Tehran Prosecutor prevented his release on bail.