Why Have My Rights Been Trampled? An Open Letter from a Lawyer
Massoud Shafiee, the lawyer who represented the three American hikers in Iran, shared an open letter to the Iranian authorities with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. In the letter, he calls out the Iranian authorities for confiscating of his passport, monitoring all his communications, and preventing him from continuing his professional activities as a lawyer.
Shafiee notes that all of these restrictions have been imposed “without any judicial orders or legal rulings,” and that “nobody is accountable.” In August 2012, security forces searched his home and office, and arrested and interrogated him, though no charges were brought.
The full text of the letter is below.
My passport, stamped with an exit permit, has been confiscated for nearly 600 days without any judicial orders or legal rulings, I am banned from leaving the country, and nobody is accountable. I am an independent lawyer and based on my profession I provide legal defense for clients who come to me.
I would have much preferred not to write an open letter, but now I feel I have to do it. This is a long story which must be told. It is an old story with lawyers, and something we have to deal with on a daily basis.
As soon as my American clients left Iran, and during my representation of my other client Reza Shahabi, without any summonses or notices being served, six plainclothes security forces entered my home and offices with orders to search the premises, and arrested and transferred me to Ward 209 of Evin Prison.
My telephone calls have been tapped and my emails and my Internet interactions have been monitored in the past and are probably being monitored right now; my livelihood, my professional, and my personal life has been limited and, if necessary, I can share details of the clear violations in this area and in my concluded cases. It appears that these limitations are the result of my accepting to represent certain clients, especially the American citizens, or my radio and television and media interviews, and if this is the case, I would like to make the following statement.
Representing my clients in all aspects of their legal representation is one of my professional obligations, which I perform within the framework of current, Sharia, and judicial laws of the country. The significance of my representations, the related court rulings, and interviews with the media about my non-Iranian clients have not been actions in favor of my own professional interests, but on a par with our country’s best interests and solving its political problems, issues that instead of marginal discussions concentrate on the foundation and implementation of execution of justice in our country.
My recent cases, which have been transparent and visible, were my representations of Mr. Rassoul Bodaghi from the Iranian Teachers’ Association; Dr. Arash and Dr. Kamyar Alaei; Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh; Ms. Sarah Shourd, Mr. Josh Fattal, and Mr. Shane Bauer, the three American hikers; Mr. Reza Shahabi, Member of the Board of Directors of Tehran Bus Company; and some Baha’is.
I have received no responses when I have contacted the President’s Office, the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office, the Intelligence Ministry, the Director General’s Office at the Tehran Province Justice Department, the Security Deputy Prosecutor at Evin Prison, and Branch 6 of Evin Courts Security Investigations. The Iranian Bar Association is also unable to assist me. This open letter is written in response to these gentlemen’s lack of action. In response to my letters demanding justice, some pretend to be sleeping or increase their hostility against me, but God knows that in my heart I have no wish other than justice.
Why have my rights as an independent lawyer been trampled without any legal justification? And why have I been pushed to my limits with all the familial, personal, professional, and earnings limitations imposed on me? It appears that some, against their mission to guide the citizens towards proper conduct and obedience of the law, impose other methods on them. What does continuing such illegal limitations on me and providing military-style answers through a booth inside Evin Prison Courts in answer to my justified requests and postponing the resolution to an unspecified time, tell me? Why don’t they realize that their interests will be achieved in observing the laws for an independent citizen?
Is it not true that the reflections of my representation of the three American suspects led the world to believe that justice is carried out in our country?
Is it not true that those who order such violations exacerbate suspicions about implementation of justice, even for independent citizens?
Such violations that destroy hope and close the space in which people like myself can serve as a lawyer, deprive me of my basic rights to see my family and my children, create personal and financial problems for me, even if not deliberate, are not responsible acts, as they create unfavorable thinking about Iran.
Without a doubt, the responsibility for any unfavorable consequences of failure to remedy such violations of the professional, moral, and financial aspects of my life rests with those who disregard the legal, moral, and judicial standards of this case and those similar to it.
In closing, I am grateful to those who judge and reflect my legal representations humanely and morally and in line with the best interests of this country. I still believe that there are many political and judicial officials in our country, and sometimes all it takes is to point things out to them.