Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU Staff

INU - It has been learned that Afarin Chitsaz, the imprisoned Iranian newspaper columnist, has begun a hunger strike to protest the extension of her two-year prison sentence, which was to end this month.

Her attorney, Mohammad Moghimi, said, “In the past year, Ms. Chitsaz has been hospitalized to undergo two knee operations to repair meniscus tears in both her knees and spent some time on medical leave to recuperate. By law, her sentence is over this month and she should be freed, but the authorities have added three months.”

After learning that the three-month medical leave granted to her earlier this year would not be counted as time served, Chitsaz began her protest on September 2, 2017.

"She has filed a complaint and I requested a review, but, unfortunately, they have had no effect," stated Moghimi. "Because of this, my client has gone on a hunger strike.”

According to Iranian law, the time Chitsaz served outside the prison for medical treatment should be deducted from her sentence, Moghimi stated. Indeed,
according to Article 502 of Iran's Criminal Procedure Regulations, "If a prisoner is suffering from physical or mental illness and his imprisonment would make his illness worse or delay his recovery, the judge can postpone the sentence being served until the prisoner regains his health after consultation with his physician.” Additionally, Article 522 of the Regulations states, "... The time spent in the hospital for treatment is taken into account as part of the prisoner's sentence.”

Chitsaz's lawyer said that her mother, Maryam Azadpour, has now been sentenced for telling the media about her daughter's case. ”After talking to the BBC about Ms. Chitsaz, the judiciary opened a file on Ms. Azadpour and she was sentenced to four months in prison by Branch 1059 of the 2nd Tehran Criminal Court, but later it was reduced to a 1.5 million tomans ($452) fine.”

Chitsaz, 42, was a columnist for President Hassan Rouhani's official government newspaper, Iran. She was arrested on November 2, 2015, as part of a crackdown on journalists who support reformist and moderate causes by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Intelligence Organization. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh in March of 2016, for "assembly and collusion against national security" and "collaboration with enemy states."

Her sentence was reduced upon appeal to two years in prison, as well as a two-year ban on practicing journalism after her release.

Moghimi added, ”When Ms. Chitsaz called me from Evin Prison today (September 3), I could tell from her voice that she was not feeling well.” He continued, "I'm sure this hunger strike will have a terrible impact on her... I told her that what she's doing is dangerous for her health, but she said she has no other choice."

He said that another client, political activist and former political prisoner Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, has been sentenced to six years in prison for allegedly criticizing Iranian officials on social media and to foreign media outlets.

"Mr. Tabarzadi completed his earlier prison sentence two years ago,” Moghimi said, "Using the excuse that he had been active on social media and had talked to foreign media, the authorities opened a new case against him and he was sentenced to one year in prison for 'propaganda against the state' and five years in prison for 'assembly and collusion against national security.' But we will definitely file an appeal.”

Tabarzadi, 58, secretary general of the secular Iran Democratic Front party, was arrested in December 2009 for protesting the execution of five political prisoners, including Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar, and sentenced to seven years in prison. After being released on June 30, 2015, he was arrested again on May 17, 2016, but was released on bail on July 13 pending his most recent trial.

 

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