Iran: We welcome Seifzadeh’s release; free all prisoners of conscience
Paris-Geneva, March 11, 2016. After nearly five
years in prison, human rights lawyer Dr. Mohammad Seifzadeh was finally
released on March 10, 2016. The Observatory welcomes this release.
Mr. Mohammad Seifzadeh is also a founding member of the Defenders
of Human Rights Center (DHRC). His release comes as a result of the
implementation of the provisions of the amended Islamic Penal Code of 2013,
under which prisoners tried on various charges and sentenced to several prison
sentences should serve only the lengthiest sentence.
On October 29, 2010, Mr. Seifzadeh was sentenced to a nine-year prison
term and 10 years ban on practice as lawyer, on charges of “acting against
national security” for founding the Defenders of Human Rights
Centre (DHRC), and “propaganda against the
regime” for having given interviews to foreign media. He was later arrested on
April 23, 2011, but his prison sentence was reduced to two years on appeal.
On February 20, 2013, while serving his
sentence, he was sentenced to six more years’ imprisonment for “assembly and
collusion against national security” that was upheld on appeal. The new
sentence was handed down as a result of a trial initiated after he wrote an open letter from
prison to former President Khatami on July 21, 2011. In that letter, he had
mentioned the widespread breach of the law in the judiciary and stated that
there was no solution but to dissolve the illegal authorities such as the
Islamic Revolution Courts and the Special Clergy Court and to reform the
The Observatory had made a submission on Mr. Seifzadeh’s behalf to the
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asking it to recognise the arbitrary
nature of his detention.
The Observatory recalls that Mr. Seifzadeh faced judicial and
administrative harassment in prison and calls on the Iranian authorities to end
his persecution and as a first step abolish the ban on his law practice.
Furthermore, the Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to release
immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience and human rights
defenders in Iran, including but not limited to: Messrs. Abdolfattah Soltani,
Mohammad-Seddigh Kaboudvand, Reza
Shahabi-Zakaria, Ms. Nargess Mohammadi and Ms. Bahareh Hedayat.
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was
created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The
objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of
repression against human rights defenders.