Civil society activists Atena Daemi and Golrakh Ebrahimi Iraee have been charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the Supreme Leader,” adding to previous charges against them. Although human rights organizations and activists regard the new charges against the activists as harsh, the trial differed from previous hearings in that lawyers for the defendants were able to review their clients’ files ahead of the session.
The new trial took place on the morning of Tuesday, June 19 at Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court under Judge Iman Afshari.
Iraee was released in April 2019, but judicial authorities summoned her under the new charges. Daemi is currently serving a five-year sentence and has suffered ill health while in prison.
“This session of the court was completely different from other courts that I’ve observed,” a source told IranWire. “The judge was respectful and both defendants were able to benefit from their attorneys in the court and calmly defend themselves. Even Ms. Daemi’s father was able to talk about the pressure and intimidations he and his family had been through.”
According to the source, Daemi’s attorney Abbas Amiri and Iraee’s lawyer Amir Raeisian were able to study the cases a few days ahead of the court date.
The source said that both charges were unfounded.
“One charge is ‘propaganda against the regime’ because of their letters [written] from inside the prison and interviews with media outlets outside the country. But they were charged with this when they were imprisoned and could not have had any communication with the outside world. “
With respect to the second charge of “insulting the Supreme Leader,” the source said: “Golrokh and Atena plead not guilty to this charge as well. The reason for the charge was the song they sang in the prison’s meeting hall the day after the execution of [prisoners] Zaniar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hosseinpanahi. Their singing was considered to be an insult against the Leader, but they only sang a famous song [to praise] martyrs, which is very popular on national television as well. They said they won’t accept this charge and they did not intend to insult anyone by singing a song.”
Also present at the hearing were the general prosecutor of Evin Prison, Amin Naseri, and another judge by the name of Hamidi were also present in today’s court session. It was unclear why the two additional legal officials were present at the trial.
The source told IranWire that Judge Iman Afshari announced he would issue the verdict in the next 10 days.
The trial date had initially been set for an earlier date, around June 8. However, Iraee had apparently not been made aware of the summons and so did not arrive in court on the designated day. Daemi urged the court to postpone the session, and the judge agreed.
Civil activist Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was charged with “insulting the sacred” because of an unpublished novel she had written and which security agents found and confiscated when they raided her apartment. In addition to this, she was charged with “propaganda against the regime” for her participation in protests outside Evin Prison, for which she was handed down a five-year sentence, and for visiting the families of political prisoners, for which she received a further one-year jail sentence. The verdict was issued by Judge Abolghasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court and was upheld in the court of appeal.
According to Article 134 of the Islamic Criminal Code, Iraee should serve the maximum punishment of five years for “Insulting the Sacred.”
On October 24, 2016, security agents arrested Iraee at her apartment without a warrant and she was taken to Evin Prison to serve her sentence. She later received a partial amnesty and served two and a half years. She was released on April 7, 2019. The new case required her to settle a bail of 60 million tomans (US$4,600) in order to secure her release.
Revolutionary Guards security agents arrested Atena Daemi, who campaigns for the rights of children, on October 21, 2014. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh on March 14, 2015. She faced charges of “propaganda against the regime,” “conspiracy against national security,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic”, and “obstruction of justice.” She was later cleared of the obstruction charge on appeal and her was reduced to five years in prison based on Article 134 of the Islamic Criminal Code.
Daemi’s charges were handed down in connection with her visits to the families of political prisoners, publishing critical posts on Facebook, objection to capital punishment, and supporting civil and political prisoners. The “obstruction of justice” charge was related to accusations that she had not cooperated with the interrogators because she refused to supply them with information about her friends and fellow activists.
She was released on bail after 14 months, but was arrested again on November 26, 2016, at her father’s house and taken to prison to serve her sentence. Since then, Daemi has faced five new criminal cases against her and in one of them, 2 of her sisters and a brother-in-law are also considered as suspects.
Daemi was later exonerated from the charges in three of the five cases. But today, she and Iraee appeared in court again, along with their lawyers, and now await the judge’s verdict.