As reports surfaced this week of the imminent execution of Iran’s Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, we are also grew increasingly concerned with the fate of her lawyer and son. We fear they are being held solely for trying to pass on information about her case.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is the 43-year-old mother of two at risk of execution by stoning, held on death row in Iran since her conviction in 2006 on charges of “adultery while married”.
The Iranian State Prosecutor, in his role as spokesperson for the judiciary, confirmed on Monday that Javid Houtan Kiyan, Sakineh Ashtiani’s lawyer, had been arrested on October 10 and that he was still under investigation for links to “anti-revolutionary groups abroad”. He also said that Javid Houtan Kiyan had been found in possession of three forged or duplicate ID cards.
Media reports have said that Javid Houtan Kiyan was arrested along with Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, and two German nationals.
We fear that Javid Houtan Kiyan may have been detained for no more than fulfilling his responsibilities as Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s lawyer, and for talking to foreign nationals.
His detention – part of the Iranian authorities ongoing targeting of defence lawyers – further undermines an already deeply flawed justice system which has failed Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from the start. She has been left for weeks without legal representation and without access to any family visits, which makes her situation all the more precarious.
The Iranian authorities have a track-record of bringing politically-motivated trumped up criminal charges against defense lawyers.
The Iranian authorities have not confirmed either the arrest or the whereabouts of Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, Sakineh Ashtiani’s son. Amnesty International has been unable to contact him since and believes he too has indeed been arrested.
The two German nationals appear to have been conducting an interview with Sajjad Ghaderzadeh and Javid Houtan Kiyan in the latter’s office when all four were arrested, according to reports received by Amnesty International.
The State Prosecutor Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei confirmed on October 11th that two foreign nationals had been arrested. On November 1st he said that the two Germans had been granted consular access.
It is hard to see that Javid Houtan Kiyan and Sajjad Qaderzadeh have been arrested for any other reason than because they wanted to publicize Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s continuing plight and to save her life. If so, they are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally, along with anyone else held for similar reasons.