Elderly Pro-Democracy Activist Sentenced to Four Years in Prison
The four-year prison sentence handed down to imprisoned author and peaceful political activist Kourosh Zaim has no legal basis and the 77-year-old should be immediately released because of his advanced age, his lawyer Giti Pourfazel told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“This sentence, which was issued while he was imprisoned, seems to be the enforcement of a suspended sentence he had previously received, but the details are not clear,” said the prominent human rights lawyer. “These cases [against political prisoners] are handled unlawfully and the authorities don’t allow the lawyer or even the condemned person to access their file.”
Zaim, a leading member of the banned National Front, one of Iran’s oldest secular opposition parties, was arrested on July 16, 2016 and handed a four-year prison sentence a week later on July 23 without his lawyer’s knowledge.
The pro-democracy activist was previously arrested on multiple occasions for his peaceful activities; he was detained for 47 days in 2006, 91 days in 2009 and 27 days in 2011.
In April 2012 Zaim was sentenced to three years in prison and banned from political and media activities for five years for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the state” by Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Branch 14 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, but the prison sentence was suspended for five years by the Appeals Court because of his old age.
Zaim was put on trial again on August 1, 2015 for “propaganda against the state” and sentenced to one year in prison by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court.
“We filed an appeal against the one-year sentence, but Mr. Zaim was arrested again before the Appeals Court issued a final ruling. He also had a three-year suspended sentence. They seem to have combined his prison sentences and put them into effect,” Pourafzal told the Campaign. “In any case, we believe that their action is unlawful. His prison sentence [issued in 2015] was for a year, at most, and we had requested that he be freed as soon as possible considering the time he has already spent in prison and his inability to tolerate prison conditions in his advanced age,”
Zaim, who has written and translated many books on Iranian politics, was persecuted by the Pahlavi dynasty as well the Islamic Republic for his activities with the National Front. The group, founded by ousted former Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and other secular politicians in the 1940s, became an ally of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini one year before the 1979 revolution, but was banned in 1981 for opposing theocratic rule.
Giti Pourfazel, a prominent human rights lawyer, announced her retirement in July 2016 but is still handling the cases that were in process prior to her announcement.