Former Reformist Member of Parliament Arrested Upon Return to Iran
A senior adviser to opposition Green Movement leader Mehdi Karroubi was arrested upon his return to Iran six years after the controversial presidential elections that forced him to leave the country. Esmail Gerami Moghaddam, a former Member of Parliament and spokesman for Mehdi Karroubi’s Etemad Melli Party, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport and transferred to Evin Prison on July 17.
The arrest takes place within the context of a crackdown on political dissidents that has continued unabated since Rouhani’s election in 2013, despite his campaign promise to free political prisoners.
During this time other individuals such as Serajeddin Mirdamadi, Hossein Nouraninejad, Saeed Razavi Faghih, Mostafa Azizi, Sajedeh Arabsorkhi, Kazem Barjesteh, Hamid Babaei, and Masoumeh Gholizadeh have also been arrested upon returning to Iran, in addition to dozens of other Iranian expatriates who travelled to Iran followed assurances by President Hassan Rouhani of their safe return home.
According to Saham News, which is affiliated with the Karroubi camp, Gerami Moghaddam was sentenced in absentia to five years in prison but it is not clear under what charges or by which court.
Moghaddam left Iran soon after the disputed 2009 presidential elections, during which large peaceful protests broke out across the country in response to questions regarding the fairness of the vote. In the violent state crackdown that ensued, the Etemad Melli Party was banned and its leader and presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, who called the election a fraud, was subsequently placed under house arrest along with fellow Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard.
While abroad, Gerami Moghaddam concentrated on completing his doctoral studies at universities in India and Malaysia. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), Moghaddam has lost most of his eyesight over recent years, and his family fears his ability to endure his prison sentence under the circumstances.
Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a press conference on July 13 that five people, some in absentia, had been sentenced in connection with disturbances following the 2009 election. He did not mention any names but it is thought Gerami Moghaddam was one of them.