Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, August 10, 2007

Iranian journalist sentenced to death is finally allowed to see family

The following piece was written by LCHR Fellow LaChelle Amos, who is currently supporting the Leadership Council’s initiatives on the ground in Iraqi Kurdistan.

After months of obfuscation in the case of two Kurdish journalists sentenced to death for ties to foreign media, Iranian officials on Tuesday revealed their whereabouts and granted family visitation rights to one of the men, a family member of the accused said Thursday.

The mother of Adnan Hassanpur was allowed to visit her son in a Sina prison on Tuesday, the first time she had seen him since his arrest in late January, despite visitation promises made by officials months ago, Adnan’s sister Leili Hassanpur told a Leadership Council employee working in Iraqi Kurdistan. There is no indication that family members of the other journalist involved in the case, Abdolvahed “Hiwa” Butimar – also being held in Sina – have been allowed similar visits.

Butimar and Hassanpur were arrested this past winter and found guilty of “moharebe,” or taking up arms against the Islamic state, and espionage – the result of phone interviews with foreign media. After Hassanpur’s arrest, eight Iranian security agents reportedly raided his home, confiscating his personal computers and other items, Leili said. The two men have since been held in isolation at various times during their imprisonment, Hassanpur for 61 days and Butimar for one month, according to Leili. Execution sentences for both men were announced on July 17.

Both men are reportedly now in poor health, having carried out hunger strikes since the day their sentences were announced, Leili said.

Supporters of Butimar and Hassanpur gathered at a hotel in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Suleimaniyah on Monday to discuss the situation. Mohammed Ezady and Madih Ahmady, the organizers of a campaign to free the men, and Aso Jabar, a prominent Kurdish writer, led the press conference.

Three other Kurdish journalists, Aku Kordnasab, Eilal Qavami and Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, were arrested during the past month, and Kaveh Javanmard was arrested in May and sentenced to two years in prison. Kaboudvand, the president of a Kurdish human rights organization, is reportedly being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison; he is apparently in poor health and being denied family visitation.


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