Fourth Human Rights Lawyer Slapped With National Security Charges in Iran
Arash Keykhosravi, a lawyer representing the family of an Iranian Canadian man who recently died under suspicious circumstances in state custody, has been slapped with national security charges, making him the fourth defense attorney detained under this pretense in Iran in less than a year.
Former moderate lawmaker Ghasem Sholeh Sa’di is facing the same charges for attending a lawful political rally along with Keykhosravi in August 2018. Their detention orders have also been extended for a month without eligibility for bail.
“The prosecutor upped the charge from ‘disruption of public order’ to ‘assembly and collusion against national security’ even though it’s unrelated to what they did, which was attend a peaceful public gathering that didn’t harm national security the slightest bit,” attorney Payam Derafshan told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on August 21, 2018.
Since February 2018, at least seven lawyers who have taken on politically sensitive cases in Iran have also been arrested, charged, and blocked from taking on new cases in a crackdown aimed at preventing defense attorneys from representing people detained on politically motivated charges.
As part of the crackdown, the judiciary has restricted those detainees, who are held on “national security” charges, to choosing their lawyers from a list of just 20 approved by the judiciary.
Keykhosravi and Sa’di were arrested in front of Iran’s Parliament building in Tehran at a rally on August 18 against the signing of an accord between Caspian Sea nations, including Iran, that divides the body of water and its oil and gas resources.
Keykhosravi has represented a number of high-profile human rights cases throughout his career, including the suspicious death of academic and environmentalist Kavous Seyed-Emami in Tehran’s Evin Prison in February 2018.
Sa’di, a former two-term parliamentary representative from the city of Shiraz, is also a retired Tehran University law professor who has been a frequent critic of state policies.
Derafshan criticized the judicial authorities for treating the two as convicts by cuffing their hands and feet and making them wear prisoners’ uniforms as they were transferred from Evin Prison to the Great Tehran Penitentiary, southeast of the capital.
“The authorities have really acted in a mean fashion toward two of the country’s most esteemed lawyers just to abuse and humiliate them,” the attorney told CHRI.
“You can put cuffs on suspects’ hands and feet but only for dangerous criminals or prisoners who might escape,” he added.