Defenders Under Threat
Qassem Sho'leh Sa'di: A Defender Under Threat
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
May 8, 2019
Mr. Qassem Sho'leh Sa'di is a member of the Bar Association, an attorney and a well-known political activist in Iran. He completed his studies in Iran and Paris prior to the Revolution and started teaching at universities upon his return to Iran. Sho'leh Sa'di was an Islamic Consultative Assembly ("Majless" or Parliament) representative for two terms and practiced law in addition to his political activities. He is a critic of the Islamic Republic's constitution and has expressed his views to the media on political and social issues resulting in his several arrests and imprisonment. He was first arrested on January 25, 2003, for publishing an open letter addressed to Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic. In his letter, he described Khamenei's appointment to the Leadership position as illegal due to his lack of qualifications at the time of the appointment, and criticized his domestic and foreign policies. Sho'leh Sa'di was released on bail after 36 days in detention. Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 26 sentenced him to a year and six months in prison and to a 10-year ban from practicing law on the charges of "insulting the Leader" and "propaganda against the regime". His sentence was upheld by the Court of Appeals but its implementation was halted by the then-Head of the Judiciary due to substantive defects in the case. He was arrested once again on April 3, 2011, in Tehran. The country's Prosecutor General stated that the reason for Sho'leh Sa'di's arrest was his prior conviction. Nevertheless, in October 2011, Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 15, presided by Judge Salavati, convicted him of the charge of "propaganda against the regime" and sentenced him to one year imprisonment, and a 10-year ban from practicing law and teaching. Furthermore, Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 28, presided by Judge Moqisseh, tried Sho'leh Sa'di's 2003 case and sentenced him to two years in prison. This was while he had already been tried for those charges and his sentence had been subjected to the statute of limitations. In prison, Qassem Sho'leh Sa'di had many health-related issues due to his illness. He was released from prison on August 15, 2012.
Qassem Sho'leh Sa'di was arrested again along with several other individuals on August 18, 2018, when they had assembled in front of Majles, the Iranian Parliament. The purpose of that assembly was to protest the Guardian Council's Approbatory Supervision (over the selection of candidates and its interference in elections), as well as Iran's share of the Caspian Sea pursuant to the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. Three days after the arrest, he was taken to the Office of the Prosecutor in Evin Prison with his hands and feet cuffed where he was charged with "assembly and colluding against national security." The Prosecutor also ordered a one-month temporary detention in Fashafouye Prison. Revolutionary Court Branch 15 in Tehran, presided by Judge Salavati, tried Sho'leh Sa'di on December 2, 2018 and sentenced him to six years in prison on the charges of "assembly and colluding against national security" and "propaganda against the regime."