Three Years after Representing American Hikers, Lawyer is Still Not Allowed to Work or Travel
The prominent human rights activist and lawyer Massoud Shafiee, who represented three American hikers detained in Iran in 2009, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that since the hikers left Iran, he has been summoned and interrogated several times, and has been kept from finding new clients or traveling abroad.
“I have not been able to work for the past three years. They took my passport and banned my foreign travel. My passport was even stamped with an exit stamp, which means that I am abroad right now! If anything should happen to me, it would be as if I were not on Iranian soil!” Shafiee told the Campaign.
Massoud Shafiee represented the three American hikers, Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Joshua Fattal, who were arrested on July 30, 2009 in the Iran-Iraq border area in Kurdistan, and were accused of espionage and illegal entry. On September 14, 2010, Sarah Shourd was released on bail of $500,000, and the other two were released on September 21, 2011.
Following the hikers’ departure from Iran, Shafiee was summoned and interrogated, and security forces entered his home on September 27, 2011, searching the premises. They then transferred him to Evin Prison where they interrogated him for several hours. The following week, Shafiee’s passport was confiscated at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport when he tried to board a flight abroad, and he was advised that he is banned from foreign travel.
“I went to the office of Mr. Mohseni Ejei, the Spokesperson for the Judiciary to pursue my case. His office manager said that he is not in and that I should write a letter. I wrote my request in a letter, but nothing happened,” Shafiee told the Campaign.
Asked whether he was directly told that he is not allowed to work or whether his lawyer’s permit has been revoked, he said: “No particular individual has ordered me to work or not to work. But during the past three years, it has been such that when clients come to see me or contact me by phone to take on their cases and I accept to do it, they say at the next meeting that they cannot have me as their lawyer in the case. They say that they have been put under pressure for choosing me,” he said.
In addition to the case of the three Americans, Shafiee has also represented social, political, and labor activists such as Arash and Kamiar Alaei, Kian Tajbakhsh, Rassoul Bodaghi, and Reza Shahabi.
“The important thing is that I myself still don’t know what my crime is and what the main issue is, and nobody is accountable. In my interrogations, they indirectly questioned me about the cases in which I was the lawyer, such as the case of Reza Shahabi, Rassoul Bodaghi, and specifically the three American hikers,” he added.
“The last person who tried to get me to accept his case was a Christian convert, but after our second appointment, his family said that they were sorry to withdraw. They were so frightened, they said they couldn’t provide more details,” said Shafiee.
Massoud Shafiee told the Campaign in 2012 that even his bedroom had been bugged and that all his comings and goings were being monitored. Shafiee said that judicial authorities told the family of Iranian-American prisoner Amir Hekmati that they could not choose him as their lawyer. “Mr. Hekmati’s sister told me that the case judge said I cannot accept any cases. What authorization does he have to do such a thing?”