British-Iranian citizen Mehran Raouf is still being held in Iran’s Evin Prison and was not given access to a lawyer until the day of his trial, Amnesty International has said.
Raouf, a 64-year-old labor rights activist, was detained in Tehran last October while on a visit to the country from the UK.
He was held in solitary confinement on the prison’s Ward 2A for more than six months and not allowed contact with his family, save for one distant relative in Iran.
The exact charges against Raouf are still not clear. But Amnesty International researcher Nassim Papayianni, who is following up on the case, told IranWire they are likely to be security-related and linked to his efforts in support of labor activists in Iran.
“He met with other activists in Iran,” she said, “and translated pamphlets about labor rights issues from Persian to English, and from English to Persian.
“Amnesty considers Mehran Raouf to be a prisoner of conscience who is detained solely due to his peaceful activism.”
Raouf was brought before Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on April 28 this year and is now awaiting a verdict following a second hearing on June 13.
After the second hearing he was transferred to the public ward of Evin Prison. Amnesty understands he was not allowed to appoint his own lawyer and did not even see a judiciary-designated one until the day of the first hearing. It is also not clear if Raouf’s court-appointed lawyer was given access to his case notes.
Raouf was held incommunicado for more than a month after his arrival on Ward 2A, which is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was also subjected to prolonged solitary confinement, which is now widely recognized as a form of psychological torture.
“We know he tried to stay as active on Ward 2A as possible,” Papayianni said, “and was constantly walking and moving about.
“The fact that he is 64 years old means there is a sense of urgency to his case, particularly with Covid-19, which we know remains rampant in Iran’s prisons. The authorities have not yet announced any plan as to how they will vaccinate prisoners, even those that are older, like Mehran. There are a lot of urgent concerns.”