Dissident Religious Scholar in Prison Once Again
Marzieh Pasdar, wife of religious scholar Ahmad Ghabel, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Ghabel was taken to Mashad’s Vakilabad Prison on Sunday, 31 July to start serving his sentence. “Mr. Ghabel went to Mashad Revolutionary Court on Sunday, following receiving a summons. We thought he only had to appear, considering his lawyer had requested a postponement of his prison term to after the holy month of Ramadan. But it turned out there that they wanted to take him to prison that same day. I went and brought his clothes from the car and waited until they took him. Thank God when he was going he was in a very good, cheerful mood and had a smile on his lips, though he was fasting,” said Pasdar.
Ahmad Ghabel, a scholar of the Qoran and a theological researcher, was a prominent student of the late Grand Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri. He was first arrested on 21 December 2009 as he tried to leave Mashad in order to participate in the funeral ceremony of Mr. Montazeri. He remained in prison for six months and was released in June 2010 on bail of $50,000. He was arrested for the second time on 14 September 2010 after being summoned to the Revolutionary Court. Last week, Ghabel’s lawyer was served with an appeals court ruling, upholding his 20-month prison sentence and instructing Ghabel to appear at the Mashad Revolutionary Court on Sunday, 31 July.
“Mr. Ghabel was prepared for such a ruling and in fact he thought he would have been taken to prisoner earlier. He said he had to take care of his personal affairs before starting his sentence. He enrolled our daughter in her summer courses. He always said that ‘it is my duty to tell the truth,’ and he wasn’t at all concerned about interviewing, writing articles, or disseminating information. If he did anything other than this, he would think that he had somehow shortchanged his religious and humanitarian duties,” added Pasdar.
Even so, Pasadar is hopeful that her husband will be pardoned. “I am not an expert in legal issues, but Mr. Ghabel’s lawyer said that if a person receives a sentence for the first time and he serves half of it, the law allows the other half to be pardoned. Perhaps if his lawyer pursues this law, it may cover Mr. Ghabel’s case, too.”