Political Prisoner in Solitary Confinement for Hunger Striking Against Wife’s Detention
Political prisoner Soheil Arabi, serving a seven-year prison sentence for the content of his personal Facebook posts, was moved to solitary confinement in Evin Prison after he started a hunger strike to protest his wife’s detention.
“Ms. (Nastaran) Naimi was detained on July 31  by plainclothes agents who did not show identification, but they appeared to be from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),” a source close to the Arabi family told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“On August 1, Soheil Arabi was moved to Ward 2-A under IRGC control after he went on a hunger strike,” added the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “His wife is probably in the same ward in Evin Prison.”
Arabi resorted to the hunger strike solely out of concern for his wife and child, according to the source.
“Soheil heard about the arrest of his wife from one of his interrogators,” said the source. “He became really upset, especially because he didn’t know where their daughter was. He said he would go on hunger strike in protest. A few hours later, he was transferred to Ward 2-A and since then we have no news.”
Arabi, who will turn 32 on August 21, was arrested on November 7, 2013 by the IRGC’s Sarallah Headquarters and sentenced to death for “insulting the Prophet” in comments he posted on Facebook that were critical of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In June 2015, Branch 24 of the Supreme Court struck down the death sentence and sent the case back to a lower court, which removed the charge of “insulting the Prophet” and sentenced him instead to seven and a half years in prison, two years of religious studies to prove his repentance, and a two-year ban from traveling abroad.
Although the death sentence was lifted, three separate courts have sentenced Arabi to prison for his social media posts. His lawyer has been trying to combine the prison sentences so he could become eligible for conditional release.
“If these cases are combined, Soheil may be able to request conditional release from prison,” a legal expert told CHRI in August 2016.
Article 134 of Iran’s New Islamic Penal Code allows for only the longest sentence to be served in cases involving convictions on multiple charges.
Arabi has been grappling with medical issues during his imprisonment, his lawyer Amir Salar Davoudi told CHRI in March 2017.
“My client has been having serious seizures and is in poor condition,” he said. “My plea to the judicial authorities is to allow him to be transferred to a hospital or his condition could get worse and become impossible to treat.”
“I hope the authorities will show more concern regarding this case,” he added. “They are responsible for his health.”
Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care.