release environmentalists indicted for ‘spying’
“With the judiciary serving as one of the main cornerstones in Iran’s apparatus of repression, there is a major risk that they won’t get a fair trial,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East deputy director at HRW.
Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said at a press conference on Wednesday that their indictments were finalized.
Four were charged with “sowing corruption on earth” which is punishable by death.
Dolatabadi claimed they were “seeking proximity to military sites with the cover of the environmental projects and obtaining military information from them.”
“Iran’s judiciary appears determined to pursue serious charges against these environmental activists no matter how ridiculous the allegations of wrongdoing are and despite the continuing denial of the defendants’ right to see a lawyer of their choice,” added Page.
The activists are members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. They include: Houman Jokar, Sepideh Kashani, Niloufar Bayani, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Sam Rajabi, Taher Ghadirian, Kavous Seyed Emami, and Morad Tahbaz.
“Iranian authorities should immediately release these activists who have been arbitrary detained for nine months unless they can produce evidence to justify the charges against them and guarantee a fair trial,” stated HRW.
The eight were arrested by the Itlaat (Intelligence agency) of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on January 24 and 25.
Emami, an Iranian Canadian professor, died while in custody on February 9. His cause of death is contentious. Iranian authorities claim he committed suicide in prison, but not have allowed an independent investigation.
Another environmentalist, Abdoreza Kouhpayeh, was arrested on February 25 and remains in detention.
The Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported in May that the head of Iran’s Environmental Institution had formed a committee and concluded there was no evidence the detained individuals are spies.
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights
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