74-year-old political prisoner and former mayor of Tehran Mohammad Tavassoli continues to be held in prison despite his deteriorating physical condition and posting bail, said Mehdi Nourbakhsh in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Dr. Mehdi Nourbakhsh, a close relative of the political prisoner, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Tavassoli’s family wrote a letter to the Head of the Judiciary and Intelligence Minister requesting his release during the Persian New Year holiday (March 21-April 2).
Nourbakhsh told the Campaign that officials have not responded to the family’s letter, and their concerns have grown. “Mohammad Tavassoli’s family is seriously concerned about his conditions. Mr. Tavassoli has lost a lot of weight during his prison stay. In a letter addressed to the Head of the Judiciary, they have requested his transfer from [the Intelligence Ministry’s] Ward 209 into the General Ward, as there is high pressure and hardship in the security wards and Mr. Tavassoli cannot endure such pressure due to his old age. His family has also asked for his immediate release, as the investigative judge in charge of his case has issued bail orders for him and the bail has also been posted, but he remains imprisoned. In fact Mohammad was neither released, nor transferred to the General Ward.”
On 2 November 2011 security forces arrested Mohammad Tavassoli, head of Iran Freedom Movement’s Political Office, at his home. His arrest came after a letter signed by 143 Iranian political and social activists, addressed to Mohammad Khatami, expressing doubt about free, healthy, and fair elections.
“After several months of imprisonment, he was given a 36-hour leave to attend his daughter’s wedding. This is when his family noticed his visible weight loss and gauntness,” added Nourbakhsh, who is currently a US resident.
“Of course Mr. Tavassoli told them that he has not been physically tortured, but the conditions in Ward 209 are ridden with psychological pressure and this has created concern for his family that Tavassoli may not be able to endure this pressure. Most importantly, [the Judge] has issued a bail ruling for Mohammad, and his family have submitted the collateral, too, but he is not released and so far they have not offered any answers about why they are not releasing him,” he added.
Mohammad Tavassoli was Tehran’s first Mayor after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He has been repeatedly arrested and tortured since that time. Prior to his recent arrest, his last arrest came only days after the 2009 presidential election, when he spent about two months inside Evin Prison’s Ward 209.