Oxford PhD Student Denied Legal Counsel 40 Days After Being Arrested in Iran
Father Claims IRGC’s Intelligence Organization is Cooking Up Case Against His Activist Son
Reformist political activist Mohammadreza Jalaeipour, an Oxford University PhD student, has been held without charge and access to a lawyer for more than a month since being arrested in Tehran by the Intelligence Organization of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
His father, reformist politician Hamidreza Jalaeipour, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that his son has only been allowed to make five brief phone calls during his detention.
“It has been 40 days since my son was detained,” he said. “Hasn’t this been enough time to interrogate him? Either put him on trial or let him go free. I don’t expect anything for my son other than to be treated according to the law and I want his situation to become clear as soon as possible.”
Before being arrested on April 18, 2018, outside the home of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), Mohammadreza Jalaeipour, 34, had recently returned to Iran from the UK where he is a sociology PhD student at Oxford University.
He had been arrested several times during the protests that followed Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election for campaigning for reformist candidates and has spent a total of five months in detention.
He was released in August 2010 on bail set at three billion rials (approximately $300,000 USD at the 2010 rate) but was never prosecuted.
Mohammadreza Jalaeipour’s father is a central committee member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), a reformist party close to Khatami and President Hassan Rouhani.
In October 2017, Hamidreza and six other IIPF politicians were charged with “propaganda against the state” and sentenced to a year in prison and banned from expressing their views to news outlets and on social media. The Appeals Court has not yet ruled on their appeal.
“Mohammadreza has only contacted us five times for brief phone conversations that were on the level of exchanging greetings,” Hamidreza Jalaeipour told CHRI. “We have made several requests to visit him in prison but they have not been approved. We have sent him books and money that have been delivered to him.”
He added: “For the first 20 days, my son was in solitary confinement and then he was moved to a ward with a few other people. He has been cellmates with different people. For a while, he was with a few environmentalists. Then he was with Daeshis [Sunni Muslim extremists] and with [spiritual thinker] Mohammad Ali Taheri, too. These days he’s cellmates with [former Vice President Esfandiar Rahim] Mashaei.”
On May 26, Hamidreza Jalaeipour posted a note on his Telegram account in which he enumerated what he described as the unlawful actions of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization in detaining political and civil rights activists.
“In these 40 days, the only person I have not had access to is the supreme leader [Ali Khamenei] but we have followed up on Mohammadreza’s case with judicial authorities, politicians and clerics to the extent we could but I still have not received an official answer,” he wrote.
“My question for the IRGC intelligence brothers is this: When you send 30 agents to arrest a person and hold him for 40 days, isn’t that enough time to fabricate a case against him?! What are you doing? Why aren’t you setting a time for his trial? Why don’t you allow visitation? Why don’t you respond to queries?”
The reformist politician added, “I wanted to tell the supreme leader that at this time no one is able to question the actions of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization under Mr. (Hossein) Taeb or take a transparent look into his operations.”
Hamidreza Jalaeipour also called for the release of the dozens of environmentalists who have been detained in Iran on unsubstantiated espionage allegations by the IRGC since January 2018.
“I want the supreme leader to know that the families of the detained environmentalists are in very bad shape,” wrote Jalaeipour. “After six months they still have no channels to follow up on their case.”
“To be fair, we have to question the legitimacy of cases that are fabricated by a bunch of unaccountable people,” he added. “It isn’t right for them to arrest some innocent people and frame cases against them after long periods of incarceration.”