Six of eight environmentalists imprisoned since January 2018 have learned that they face long prison sentences. “The verdict was conveyed to them in prison, though their lawyers have yet to be informed,” Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, the former lawyer of Sam Rajabi, one of the imprisoned environmentalists, told IranWire. “We still do not know the details of these heavy sentences because the lawyers have yet to see the details of the verdict.”
According to this report, the sentences are as follows: Morad Tahbaz and Niloufar Bayani have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison, Taher Ghadirian and Hooman Jokar, eight years each, and Amir Hossein Khaleghi and Fariba Kashani have each been sentenced to six years in jail.
Verdicts against Sam Rajavi and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh are still unknown. Their lawyers are unwilling to talk to the media and, according to family members who talked to IranWire, the lawyers have even refused to provide the families with details of the case and the trial. And because most Iranians are still blocked from accessing the internet after recent protests over the increase in gas prices, IranWire has been unable to seek more information from family members.
In the second session of her trial in February 2018, Niloufar Bayani told the court that, during her initial detention, she had been forced to confess against herself. Bayani turned to those present in the court and shouted that “If you had been threatened with an injection like me, you would have confessed, too! They kept me in solitary confinement for months, beat me and forced me to confess. Now they are taking me to [Judge] Salavati to execute me.”
Kavous Seyed-Emami, a trustee of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF) and a university professor, was arrested by the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guards along with eight of his colleagues. But in February 2018 judiciary officials told his wife that he had committed suicide in prison – a claim that Seyed-Emami’s family and friends found impossible to believe.
The eight environmentalists are still in Evin Prison, in a ward controlled by the Revolutionary Guards; they currently have permission to make calls to their families, and to receive visitors. According to an informed source, the last session of their trial, presided over by Revolutionary Court Judge Abolghasem Salavati, was held on October 22.
Charges but No Evidence
Morad Tahbaz, Niloufar Bayani, Hooman Jokar and Taher Ghadirian had been initially charged with “spreading corruption on earth” – which can carry a death sentence – but it was later changed to “cooperating with enemy states.” As of now, judicial authorities have not provided any evidence to support this charge.
According to Article 286 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, “Any person, who … commits felony against the bodily entity of people, offenses against internal or international security of the state, spreading lies, disruption of the economic system of the state, arson and destruction of properties, distribution of poisonous and bacterial and dangerous materials, and establishment of, or aiding and abetting in, places of corruption and prostitution, [on a scale] that causes severe disruption in the public order of the state and insecurity, or causes harsh damage to the bodily entity of people or public or private properties, or causes distribution of corruption and prostitution on a large scale, shall be considered as [corrupt on earth] and shall be sentenced to death.”
And Article 508 of the Penal Code states that “Anyone who cooperates by any means with foreign states against the Islamic Republic of Iran, if not considered an [enemy of god], shall be sentenced to one-to-ten years’ imprisonment.”
The charges against the other two detainees are not clear. Earlier, it was said the Sam Rajabi had been charged with “gathering and conspiracy against national security,” but as of now, neither the judiciary nor the Intelligence Organization of the Revolutionary Guards have offered any evidence to support this charge or the charge of espionage.
A special committee of four, appointed by the president to investigate the activities of these environmentalists, concluded that no evidence to support the charge of espionage against them had been found. Even Isa Kalantari, the head of Iran’s Environmental Protection Agency, said that the Intelligence Ministry had dismissed the charges of espionage against the detainees.
Nevertheless, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the former Tehran prosecutor, announced that neither the head of Iran's Environmental Protection Agency nor any other official may comment on the case.
The families of the imprisoned environmentalists have written letters to the head of the judiciary, members of parliament, the speaker of parliament and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, pleading with them to give their loved ones a fair trial and to set them free. Before the trial, it was announced that, by order of Ayatollah Khamenei, their case had been removed from the Revolutionary Guards and given to the Supreme National Security Council for review. This announcement raised hopes that the case would be closed and the eight environmentalists would be released. And yet Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court has now sent six of the eight to jail.
Environmentalist “Spies” Denied Their Own Lawyers, February 12, 2019
Five Environmentalists Charged with Corruption on Earth, October 22, 2018
Six Baha’i Environmentalists Arrested, September 25, 2018
Security Agents Raid Home of Murdered Activist, June 26, 2018
An Iranian Patriot Vs. a Corrupt System, April 19, 2018
Environmental Expert Kaveh Madani Leaves Iran, April 16, 2018
Son Calls for Independent Investigation into “Suicide”, February 15, 2018
The “Suicide” Project: A Warning to Activists, February 12, 2018
Scientist Arrested Four Months after Returning to Iran, February 11, 2018
News of Iranian-Canadian's "Suicide" in Prison Shocks Iran, February 10, 2018