Iranian rock climber Elnaz Rekabi made the headlines in October after she appeared at an international competition in South Korea without a hijab, a move seen by many as a gesture of support for the anti-government protests that have swept Iran for weeks.
The 33-year-old Elnaz is remanded under house arrest. She has apologized for violating Iran’s mandatory hijab legislation, saying the move was unintentional. It was unclear whether her comments were made under duress.
The controversy unfolded as demonstrations raged across Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of morality police, triggering a bloody repression by the security forces.
Supporters have expressed concerns about Elnaz’s safety in Iran, where the authorities have harassed the Rekabi family since the October 16 competition in Seoul.
According to media reports, police have destroyed the family villa in the northwestern Iranian province of Zanjan.
Elnaz’s brother, Davood, posted a photo on social media showing the destroyed garden, and asked "Where are you, justice?”
"Whatever [life] gives us, we accept it, whether it is grief, happiness, bitterness or poison," he also wrote.
News sources have said that Davood, who has won more than 10 medals in both national and international climbing competitions, has been sentenced to pay the equivalent of $5,000 for an undisclosed “violation.”
Davood was arrested while her sister was still in Seoul before being released.
Upon her return to Tehran, the sister and brother appeared before state television cameras. Elnaz repeated what had previously been said in a post published on her Instagram account -- that she had forgotten to wear a hijab.
Elnaz was placed under house arrest in her father's house in Zanjan, and was prevented from meeting freely with other athletes, giving interviews or using her cellphone.
The National Olympic Committee and the minister of sports told Elnaz that “her family’s land would be confiscated if she leaves the country, gives interviews to the media or starts sensitive activities on his social pages,” a source told IranWire at the time, adding that the family’s property was worth $300,000.
Before heading to Seoul, Rekabi was required to hand over a $35,000 cheque and grant full power of attorney to Iran’s climbing federation to sell her family's property as a guarantee she would come back.