Iranian security forces re-arrested well-known civil rights activist Sepideh Qoliyan overnight, hours after she was released from more than four years in prison.
After her release on March 15, Qoliyan posted on Twitter a video of herself without the mandatory hijab shouting slogans against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei outside Tehran’s Evin prison.
“Khamenei the Zahhak! We'll take you down into grave," she shouted, referring to a mythical king said to have fed serpents growing out of his shoulders with young people’s brains.
بعد از چهار سال و هفت ماه از پرونده هفتتپه آزاد شدم. اینبار به امید آزادی ایران اومدم بیرون! به امید آزادی خیلی زود عزیزانم سپیده کاشانی، نیلوفر بیانی، زهرا زهتابچی، بهاره هدایت، گلرخ ایرایی، ناهید تقوی و همه زندانیان سیاسی مخصوصا زنان زندانی. #ژن_ژیان_ئازادی pic.twitter.com/xsatUX1vZf— sepideqoliyan (@sepideqoliyan) March 15, 2023
Five hours later, Qoliyan was arrested on a motorway while she and her family were traveling in three cars to their hometown of Dezful, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
At around 1:00 a.m., the vehicle carrying Qoliyan and her brother was stopped by security forces, an informed source told IranWire.
"While the family was travelling from Qom to Arak, they noticed that Sepideh's brother, Mehdi, who was travelling with her, had stopped his car. Plainclothes officers and armed policemen then surrounded them," the source said.
"There were many cars and a large number of people, so it’s unclear how many people were there to arrest Sepideh. All I know is that, as far as my eyes could see, there were plainclothes officers surrounding the family."
The agents told Qoliyan’s relatives that she would be transferred to Tehran and advised them to seek information about the case at the prosecutor's office in Evin prison.
They did not reveal which intelligence agency they belonged to and did not show an arrest warrant.
The relatives were also told that the security forces had been waiting for the family convoy to pass on the motorway for several hours.
"They weren’t violent and urged Sepideh to calm down the family," the source said.
Qoliyan was arrested along with other activists, protest organizers, and workers during the Haft Tappeh Sugar Factory strike in November 2018.
She was initially sentenced to 19 years and six months in prison, but the sentence was reduced to five years on appeal.
Qoliyan was released on March 15 after serving four years and seven months of her sentence.