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Iran: UN experts welcome release of Arash Sadeghi

GENEVA (11 May 2021) – UN human rights experts* welcomed the release of Iranian human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, who was released from Raja'i Shahr Prison this month after five-and-a-half years in detention.

Mr. Sadeghi received prison sentences totalling 15 years by a Revolutionary Court on multiple charges, including publishing "lies in cyberspace", "propaganda against the system" and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under Iranian law, he would have to serve seven-and-a-half years in prison, the longest of his sentences. UN experts say his peaceful human rights activism included social media posts and communications with journalists and human rights defenders abroad. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in an opinion issued in 2018 that the deprivation of Mr. Sadeghi's liberty was arbitrary and called for his immediate release.

"I welcome the release of Mr. Sadeghi, and commend the Iranian Government's implementation of the Sentence Reduction Directive," said Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. "I look forward to the release of other human rights defenders who have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, including Mr. Sadeghi's wife, Golrokh Iraee." Ms. Iraee was also the subject of an opinion by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, added: "While noting the release of Mr Sadeghi, I maintain grave concerns for individuals arbitrarily detained in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including human rights defenders. I am encouraged by this decision and other recent decisions by the Iranian authorities to release human rights defenders and I urge the Iranian authorities to build on these positive signs and to release other arbitrarily detained individuals."

Mr. Sadeghi was known for advocating against human rights violations in Iranian prisons. While in detention himself, he wrote letters in support of other imprisoned human rights defenders, petitioning for an improvement in prison conditions and for their release.

In 2018, Mr. Sadeghi was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his shoulder, but was later transported back to prison contrary to medical advice. Consequently, his right arm became infected, resulting in a loss of mobility and feeling in that arm.

On 11 May 2020, the Iranian Parliament ratified the Sentence Reduction Law. This law has reduced the sentences and brought about the release of some human rights defenders, including Mr. Sadeghi.


* The experts: Ms Mary Lawlor, (Ireland) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran; Ms. Leigh Toomey (Chair-Rapporteur), Ms. Elina Steinerte (Vice-Chair), Ms. Miriam Estrada-Castillo, Mr. Mumba Malila, Ms. Priya Gopalan , Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures' experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact Orsolay Toth (+41 22 917 9913 /ototh@ohchr.org) or write to defenders@ohchr.org

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza ( +41 22 928 9855 /rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org), Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 22 917 7578 / jlaurence@ohchr.org) and Kitty McKinsey (kmckinsey@ohchr.org).

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts.

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