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.
Revolutionary Court Unqualified to Review Case, Says Mohammad Seifzadeh
Prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh refuses to participate in his upcoming trial session, his wife Fatemeh Golzar told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Prominent human rights lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh
“Mr. Seifzadeh will not appear at this court session again for the same reason as before-he does not recognize the Revolutionary Court as qualified to review this case. He believes he should be tried in the Tehran Province Criminal Court, in the presence of a jury qualified to review press and political charges. As in the past, he will not participate and he has asked me as his lawyer to submit the bill he has written prior to the time the court convenes and not to participate in the proceedings,” Fatemeh Golzar told the Campaign.
In April 2011, security forces arrested Mohammad Seifzadeh, lawyer and, along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, on the charge of “illegally exiting the country.” During his detention, he wrote a letter to former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, and two critical articles about “laws governing pardons,” and the “definition of a political crime,” as well as signing several group statements in prison. Authorities accuse Seifzadeh of “collusion and assembly against national security.” His first trial session was scheduled for 10 January 2012, and he refused to appear at court. Mohammad Seifzadeh’s lawyer submitted his defense bill to the court. The court session was renewed for 11 March, and now for the third time for 9 April.
“We requested leave for him for the New Year, but, unfortunately, it was not approved. My last visit with him was on 2 April and he appeared fine,” said Golzar.
In October 2010, the prominent human rights lawyer was sentenced to nine years in prison and ten years’ ban on practicing law on charges of “acting against national security through co-founding the Defenders of Human Rights Center. In 2011, an appeals court reduced his sentence to two years in prison. He continues to await results of his case on charges of “illegally exiting the country,” and “writing a letter to Khatami.”
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