Jailed Activist’s Son Threatened with Imprisonment to Silence Dissent
Three Relatives of Iranian Dissidents Arbitrarily Prosecuted in One Month
Amid a renewed crackdown on peaceful criticism of Iranian state policies, the son of imprisoned filmmaker and journalist Mohammad Nourizad is being arbitrarily prosecuted to “pressure” Nourizad to be silent, his wife told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“My son and other young people who expressed sympathy with the [Ukrainian plane] crash victims’ families should be praised, not imprisoned,” Nourizad’s wife Fatemeh Maleki told CHRI.
“They are punishing my son to put pressure on his father,” she added.
Her son, Ali Nourizad, was tried by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on April 28, 2020, for participating in a protest against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane shortly after the airliner had taken off from Tehran.
Iran’s intelligence establishment has a documented history of harassing and detaining activists’ and journalists’ family members as part of a long-established practice aimed at deterring Iranian citizens from publicly criticizing state policies.
Earlier this month, Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad, based in New York, reported that her brother is being prosecuted in Iran to pressure her to end her public campaign against the compulsory hijab.
Meanwhile, Tehran-based novelist Hamid Namjoo, the brother of New York-based Iranian musician Mohsen Namjoo, lost his appeal against a one-year prison sentence that was issued in part because he is related to Mohsen, who was referred to in the verdict as a “fugitive.”
Ali Nourizand was previously tried in absentia without being given a chance to defend himself in court and sentenced on April 7 to 3.6 years in prison for the charge of “assembly and collusion against national security” for peacefully demanding justice for the 176 passengers—mostly Iranians—who perished on Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752.
“Since the sentence had been issued without the presence of the accused, Ali’s lawyer objected and today a new trial was held where Ali and his lawyer presented their defense,” his mother told CHRI on April 28, 2020.
“But the sentence is probably going to be the same as before because our judges are subservient to the security authorities and they listen to orders from higher-ups,” added Maleki. “The sentence against my son has already been issued from above because essentially he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
Defendants held on politically motivated charges in Iran are given severely restricted access to counsel and prosecuted and sentenced without due process.
Ali Nourizand’s father, filmmaker and journalist Mohammad Nourizad, is currently imprisoned for signing an open letter calling on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to resign.
All 14 people who signed that letter were prosecuted for that peaceful action and many of them sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Several of the signatories including Mohammad Nourizad are currently in an IRGC-controlled detention center in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
The Iranian judiciary has a documented history of sentencing individuals to prison for the content of their writings and public statements under trumped-up “national security” charges, particularly journalists and writers accused of challenging or criticizing state policies or officials.
“On January 12, 2020, Ali went to express sympathy with families of victims of the airplane crash when he was arrested by the IRGC and interrogated at a detention center,” his mother told CHRI. “The next day, he was transferred to Evin Prison and released 20 days later after posting bail set at 850 million tomans (approximately $201,625).”
“They accused him of ‘assembly and collusion against national security’ only because he got together with his friends to protest and commiserate,” said Maleki.
“What does ‘assembly and collusion’ mean?” she added. “Were they trying to set a bank on fire? Plant a bomb? All they did was express sympathy. They did not act against national security.”
Read this article in Persian.