Iranian-American Initially Sentenced to 18 Years Prison Released on Bail During Appeal
Robin (Reza) Shahini, the Iranian-American man sentenced to 18 years imprisonment in Iran on alleged security charges, has been released on bail while he awaits the results of his appeal.
He spent the first day of the Iranian new year, March 21, 2017, with his relatives, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on April 3, adding that “Shahini hopes his heavy 18-year prison sentence will be overturned by the Appeals Court.”
Bail has been set at 200 million tomans (approximately $61,500 USD).
The 47-year-old went on hunger strike on February 15 to protest his unjust sentence and harsh prison conditions.
Shahini was arrested on July 11, 2016 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization allegedly for his social media and blog postings on Iranian politics, and comments he had made about Iran to Western media, including during interviews with Voice of America, which is banned in the Islamic Republic.
Three months later, on October 15, Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in the city of Gorgan, 190 miles northeast of Tehran, sentenced him to 18 years in prison for “insulting the sacred on Facebook;” “acting against national security;” “participating in protest gatherings in 2009;” and “collaborating with enemy states through Voice of America.”
The charges implied that Shahini was working for the United States government and had entered Iran on a mission. However, while Iranian officials regularly describe the US as an enemy, Tehran and Washington are not officially enemies in a state of war, making the allegation moot.
“I came to Iran to visit my family (on May 25, 2016) because I thought the government’s attitude towards citizens had changed (after Hassan Rouhani became president in 2013) and (the government) wanted to open a new chapter in its interactions with the people on the basis of human rights,” he wrote in a letter from prison, a copy of which was obtained on March 7 by CHRI.
“My only sin was that as a responsible human being, I expressed my views about my homeland, which is the right of every citizen,” he said. “Don’t let me remain in this prison as an innocent man.”