Defense Lawyer Mostafa Tork Hamedani Sentenced to Six Months Imprisonment in Iran
Human rights attorney Mostafa Tork Hamedani has been sentenced to six months imprisonment in Iran for allegedly slandering a former prosecutor, his lawyer Peyman Haj Mahmoud Attar announced on January 15, 2019.
Hamedani is among a group of defense attorneys currently being targeted by the country’s security establishment for taking on politically sensitive cases, including those involving peaceful activists and dissidents.
Hamedani’s attorney told the state-funded Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) that the preliminary sentence against his client was 10 months in prison and 40 lashes but on appeal was reduced by four months with the flogging sentence suspended for one year.
Reacting to the Appeals Court’s verdict, Hamedani on January 15 posted a photo with his daughters on Instagram with the caption: “I’m not upset. This is nothing compared to the courageous people who have given their lives for their country.”
Hamedani was prosecuted based on a lawsuit brought by former Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, who alleged Hamedani had made public accusations against him before Mortazavi was convicted in a case involving financial corruption during the period Mortazavi headed the Iran’s Social Security Organization (SSO) in 2011-2013.
While speaking to ISNA, Attar noted that Hamedani “did not even mention Mortazavi by name” in the interview in question.
“The court would have been correct in its judgment only if the accused had revealed Mortazavi’s name and identity to the media,” said Attar, noting that Hamedani had not done so.
Hamedani noted on Instagram that Mortazavi was sentenced to only 70 lashes after being convicted of embezzling nearly $350,000 from state funds but for alleged slander, Hamedani was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
“I’m writing this to remind my colleagues of what they already know… that I am paying the price of honoring our professional oath,” he wrote.
Before being appointed head of the SSO, Mortazavi was a prosecutor and judge in Tehran from 2003 to 2010. In December 2017, he became the only state official held accountable for the death of a detainee tortured in the Kahrizak Detention Center in 2009. Mortazavi was sentenced to two years in prison for the detainee’s death, which he began serving in April 2018, according to Iranian state media outlets.
In July 2018, Hamedani was charged for criticizing Iran’s judiciary for barring him and several other defense attorneys from defending conservationists who had been arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
During that time, Hamedani, who has taken on several human rights cases throughout his career, tweeted a copy of his summons document.
“I was summoned to the Culture and Media Court based on a complaint by Tehran’s deputy prosecutor who accused me of spreading falsehoods,” he tweeted on July 26, 2018.
“The reasons given in the complaint are my tweets about the late [Kavous] Seyed-Emami and the Note to Article 48 regarding the prohibition on lawyers against representing detained environmentalists,” he added. “The investigator was polite and I hope my defense will be accepted. All my efforts are aimed at improving the climate for lawyers to defend the accused.”
Seyed-Emami, an Iranian Canadian academic and conservationist, died under suspicious circumstances in Evin Prison in Tehran in February 2018 two weeks after being arrested by the IRGC during the previous month.
At least seven lawyers were imprisoned in Iran in 2018, including prominent attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, for defending political prisoners or for rejecting the state requirement that detainees held on “national security” charges choose counsel from a list approved by the judiciary.