Iranian Activist Hengameh Shahidi Refuses to Hire New Lawyer Against Judge’s Orders
Detained Iranian political activist and journalist Hengameh Shahidi has defied a judge’s order by refusing to hire a new lawyer.
“I have been trying to visit my client since her case was sent to court two months ago, but the judge has suddenly ruled against my qualification and demanded my resignation,” attorney Mostafa Tork Hamadani tweeted on September 11, 2018.
In July 2018, Hamadani was summoned to court to face charges for criticizing the judiciary for barring him and other defense lawyers from defending detainees held on politically motivated charges.
Shahidi, a former senior advisor to detained former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, has been in detention since June 2018 for criticizing state policies in social media posts and in interviews with foreign news outlets.
In a June 24 interview with Kayhan, an opposition-run website based in London, Shahidi also criticized reformists for not speaking out against centrist President Hassan Rouhani for the repression and rights violations perpetrated by his Ministry of Intelligence.
Hamadani noted in his tweet that he had been barred from defending Shahidi because he is not on a list of lawyers hand-picked by the judiciary to represent individuals accused of national security charges.
Shahidi, 43, was previously detained for five months in 2017 after predicting in an open letter that she would be arrested ahead of that year’s presidential election. At the time, she was accused of collaborating with Amad News, a Telegram app channel operated by Iranians living outside the country.
Shahidi was a political adviser to former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi during his 2009 presidential campaign. Since February 2011, Karroubi and fellow opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard have been under house arrest for leading Iran’s 2009 protests that came to be known as the Green Movement.
Shahidi worked as a journalist for the Norooz newspaper published by the reformist Etemad Melli (National Trust) Party until her arrest in June 2009, when she was sentenced to six years in prison for the charges of “propagating against the regime,” “acting against national security” and “insulting the president.” She was granted conditional release in June 2012 on medical grounds.