Iran: Judicial harassment and arbitrary arrest of several human rights lawyers

Urgent Appeal
en fa

IRN 004 / 0918 / OBS 115
Arbitrary detention /
Release on bail /
Judicial harassment
September 14, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) about a series of recent acts of judicial harassment and arbitrary detention targeting several lawyers for taking up human rights cases and representing other human rights lawyers prosecuted for their work.

According to the information received, on September 8, 2018, Messrs. Payam Derafshan and Farrokh Forouzan-Kermani, who had been arrested on August 31, 2018 [1], were released on bail of 110 million tomans and 120 million tomans respectively, after being charged with “insulting judicial authorities”.

Mr. Derafshan is one of the lawyers for imprisoned human rights lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh as well as of lawyers Messrs. Mohammad Najafi and Arash Kaykhosravi. He had also previously represented the family of Mr. Kavous Seyed-Emami and filed a complaint against the State-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) for airing a film in which Mr. Seyed-Emami was portrayed as a spy.

On September 2, 2018, Mr. Mohammad Hossein Aqassi was threatened with detention during the first court hearing of an intellectual property rights case against the national radio and TV IRIB, in which he is representing Mr. Mohammad Reza Shajarian, a prominent singer of Iranian traditional music.

On July 26, 2018, the Criminal Court Branch 102 in Arak, Markazi Province, sentenced Mr. Mohammad Najafi to a total of three years of custodial imprisonment, including two years for “publishing lies and disturbing the public opinion” and one year and 74 lashes for “disrupting [public] order”. Mr. Najafi will appeal this first instance decision. The charges were related to Mr. Najafi’ acting as a defence lawyer in the case of the death of a protester in police custody in January 2018 in Arak. Mr. Najafi was represented by Mr. Arash Kaykhosravi in addition to Mr. Derafshan. Mr. Najafi has been detained several times before, the last time being from January 15, 2018 to April, 17, 2018, in relation to the above-mentioned case.

On July 26, 2018, Mr. Mostafa Tork-Hamedani disclosed that he had been summoned by the Office of the Prosecutor for Culture and Media for questioning and accused of “spreading false information”. The accusations are related to tweets he published about university professor and environmental activist Mr. Kavous Seyed-Emami, who died while in custody of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and his criticism of the judiciary for barring him and other defence lawyers from defending environmental activists. Mr. Tork-Hamedani was not detained following the questioning and it is not known if any charges have been or will be lodged against him.

On July 10, 2018, Mr. Hossein Ahmadi-Niaz was summoned for questioning by the Islamic Revolution Court Branch 4 of Sanandaj (the capital of Kurdistan Province) after signing an open letter criticising the Head of the Judiciary for exerting restrictions on thousands of lawyers in national security-related cases. Mr. Ahmadi-Niaz was not detained following the questioning, but it is not known if any charges have been or will be raised against him. Recently, Mr. Ahmadi-Niaz represented Mr. Ramin Hosseinpanahi, an Iranian Kurdish political prisoner who was executed along with two other Kurdish political prisoners on September 8, 2018.

On July 8, 2018, Mr. Mostafa Daneshju (aka Daneshjoo) was arrested by armed security forces who broke down the door of his mother’s home in Tehran. Security forces presented an arrest warrant from Branch 3 of the Prosecutor’s Office based in Evin prison. After spending 45 days in solitary confinement in Ward 209, he was transferred to Evin prison’s Quarantine Ward before being taken to Ward 4. Although the authorities have not provided any reasons for Mr. Daneshju’s arrest, he is believed to be detained based on a case brought against him in late 2017 or early 2018, the exact date and details of which are not available. Mr. Daneshju is suffering from cardiac problems and asthma, and authorities are denying him proper medical care. On July 21, 2018, Mr. Daneshju was taken to Taleqani hospital and returned to prison without receiving care. Over the years, Mr. Daneshju has defended numerous Gonabadi Dervishes and served several prison terms. He had last been released in May 2015[2].

The Observatory recalls that at least five other human rights lawyers, Mr. Arash Kaykhosravi, Mr. Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi [3], Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, Ms. Hoda Amid and Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh [4], also remain in arbitrary detention.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the ongoing wave of arrests, detentions, and acts of judicial harassment against human rights lawyers, which appear to be aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities, and urges the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all the above-mentioned detained human rights lawyers and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Iran asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Mostafa Daneshju, Arash Kaykhosravi, Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi, Abdolfattah Soltani, Ms. Hoda Amid, and Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Iran;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Messrs. Mostafa Daneshju, Hossein Ahmadi-Niaz, Mohammad Najafi, Mostafa Tork-Hamedani, Payam Derafshan, Farrokh Forouzan-Kermani, Mohammad Hossein Aqassi, Arash Kaykhosravi, Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi,Abdolfattah Soltani, Ms. Hoda Amid, and Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and all human rights defenders in Iran;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Mostafa Daneshju, Hossein Ahmadi-Niaz, Mohammad Najafi, Mostafa Tork-Hamedani, Payam Derafshan, Farrokh Forouzan-Kermani, Mohammad Hossein Aqassi, Arash Kaykhosravi and Ghasem Sholeh-Saadi, Abdolfattah Soltani, Ms. Hoda Amid, and Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 6, 9, 11 and 12;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.


• Leader of the Islamic Republic, H.E. Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, Fax: + 98 21 441 2030, Email:; Twitter: @khamenei_ir
• President Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 644 54811; Email:; Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian).
• Head of the Judiciary, H.E. Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: / /
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149;
• Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed Javad Larijani, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email:
• H.E. Mr. Javad Amin-Mansour, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:
• H.E. Mr. Peiman Seadat, Ambassador, Embassy of Iran in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Iran in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, September 14, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The 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 prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] See Observatory Press Release, September 5, 2018.
[2] See Observatory Press Release, July 22, 2013.
[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 003 / 0818 / OBS 106, August 23, 2018.
[4] See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 001 / 0618 / OBS 085, June 15, 2018.

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