Victims and Witnesses
"Engage Authorities on my Brother's Civil Rights": Sister of Imprisoned Environmental Activist Sam Rajabi Appeals to UN Special Rapporteur
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
January 5, 2019
Katayoun Rajabi, sister of imprisoned environmental activist Sam Rajabi, has asked UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran Javaid Rehman to engage Iranian authorities regarding violations of her brother’s civil rights and to follow up on his case. The full text of Rajabi’s letter, originally published by HRANA, appears below:
I am Katayoun Rajabi, sister of Sam Rajabi, one of eight environmental activists arrested on January 25, 2018.
Two months after the arrests, families were told that interrogations were still underway and that, owing to the security nature of the cases, the arrestees would not enjoy the right to retain a lawyer. Unfortunately, all the families’ efforts to follow up proved fruitless, and despite the fact that the Ministry of Information announced on several occasions that no evidence against the arrestees exists, the judiciary has maintained its position.
Mr. Javaid Rehman: After much hard work, lawyer Mohammad Hossein Aghassi finally took on my brother’s case in late September 2018 and reported to the Evin Prosecutor’s Office to defend him.
On October 27, my brother’s lawyer reported the following: “Regarding the charge of espionage and collaboration in espionage: for Sam Rajabi, one of the eight arrested environmental activists, prosecution for the espionage charge has been dropped, and this decision was confirmed. At present my client is thus faced with charges of collusion with the purpose of committing a crime against national security.”
A few months ago, when the judiciary presented its list of “confirmed lawyers” to Prosecutor’s Offices, it declared that defendants in political and security cases would only be able to select court-appointed lawyers from this list.
In late December, my brother and two other defendants in this case were summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office and indictments were issued against them.
Judge Abolghassem Salvati, head of the Branch 15 Revolutionary Court and vice-magistrate for the Tehran Public Courts, asked my brother and another of Aghassi’s clients to change their lawyer owing to the fact that Aghassi took up human rights activists’ cases and has a presence in the media. This was despite the fact that, according to the law and the admission of judiciary spokesman Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohseni Ajhei, per the Note to Article 48 of the Code of Criminal Procedure [the pre-approved lawyer rule] is only enforceable in the Prosecutor’s Office stage and defendants in security cases can choose their own lawyers at trial.
All my family’s efforts in the course of the year my brother has spent in temporary detention have secured no result from authorities. I, Katayoun Rajabi, now request of you as a special representative of the United Nations in the area of Iran that you engage Iranian authorities on the matter of these violations of my brother’s civil rights.
January 5, 2019
It bears mentioning that on January 2, 2019 Mohammad Hossein Aghassi, defense lawyer to my brother and one of the other defendants in the detained environmental activist case, reported that three of the defendants in the case were summoned to Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court and had indictments issued against them. Aghassi said that “Yesterday, my client was present in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court. Announcing the indictment, the judge in the case asked him to present his lawyer. Sam Rajabi stated that I had taken on his case. The judge did not accept this, and said that he should introduce another lawyer.”
On December 7, 2018, Aghassi broke news that two of his clients’ cases had been referred to Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court: “I went to the Prosecutor’s Office in order to defend one of my clients, and there made my defense. For another of my clients, the court has not yet allowed me to get involved in the case and has designated a court-appointed lawyer for him despite the fact that I’m representing him.”
Aghassi stated that “Sam Rajabi has been cleared of the charge of espionage, but another charge has been entered against him which is a part of the case presently being investigated.”
“The reality is that the Prosecutor has asked the investigating judge to charge five of the defendants with ‘corruption on earth,’ and the investigating judge has assented to this” he added.
In a fall 2018 letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the families of the detained environmental activists called the charges brought against their children “unbelievable” and requested a fair trial for them. The families continue to demand that limitations which have been placed on the defendants’ access to lawyers be removed.
Iran’s Ministry of Information has for some time maintained that the charges are baseless and the activists are innocent.
Morteza Aryanejhad, Homan Jokar, Amirhossein Khaleghi, Sam Rajabi, Taher Ghadiran, Niloufar Biani, Sepideh Kashani, Mora Tahabaz, Kavus Seyed Emami, Hassan Ragh, Aref Zareh, Hassan Zareh, Abdolreza Kuhpayeh, and Alireza Farhadzadeh are the 14 wildlife experts and environmental activists who were arrested on charges of involvement in an espionage case in the final months of the last [Iranian] year. Two weeks after their arrest, Seyyed Emami’s family was informed that he had died in detention.