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Voice of America – English: Freed Iranian Dissident in Good Mental State, Needs Medical Monitoring, Husband Says

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Iran has freed a prominent female dissident jailed since 2015, her husband and state media say, following a yearslong campaign by international rights activists demanding an end to what they described as her unjust and cruel detention.

Journalist and human rights advocate Narges Mohammadi, 48, was released from a prison in the northwestern city of Zanjan early Thursday, according to a tweet from her husband, Taghi Rahmani, who lives in exile in Paris with the couple’s two children.

In the tweet, Rahmani said he heard from relatives in Iran that his wife was released at 3 a.m. local time.

Iranian state media also quoted a judicial official as saying Mohammadi was released Thursday as part of a commutation of her 10-year prison term.

Speaking to VOA Persian, Rahmani said family members in Iran told him that his wife apparently was woken up and informed of her release shortly before being allowed to leave the prison. “She currently is in a good mental state, but given her health problems in prison, she should be monitored by doctors,” he said.

Rahmani made no further comment on Twitter by late Thursday regarding whether he had spoken directly to his wife.

In an August message to VOA, Rahmani said Mohammadi needed specialized medical care outside of prison for a lung disease and weakened immune system following surgeries in 2018 and 2019, as well as for beatings that she apparently sustained while being transferred to Zanjan prison in December.

London-based rights group Amnesty International (AI) has said Iranian authorities violently transferred Mohammadi to Zanjan from Tehran’s Evin prison, where she had been incarcerated since her arrest in May 2015. She was working as a spokesperson for Iranian dissident group Center for Human Rights Defenders at the time of her detention.

Narges MohammadiNarges Mohammadi
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Rahmani’s August message also said his wife appeared to have recovered from coronavirus symptoms that she began experiencing in July. She reported those symptoms in a letter sent from prison to her supporters.

In his latest comments, Rahmani credited Mohammadi’s lawyers for helping to secure her freedom.

“There is no place for any civil or political activist in prison, and I wish that all such prisoners would have been included in this release,” he said.

AI welcomed news of Mohammadi’s release via Twitter.

“She should never have been unjustly jailed for over 5 years for her peaceful human rights activism. Many thanks to everyone across the globe who worked tirelessly for her release!” the group wrote.

Rahmani expressed hope that authorities would not bar his wife from leaving Iran to visit him and their children in France. He noted that their son and daughter haven’t seen Mohammadi for five years.

In July, Rahmani tweeted a video clip of his daughter, Kiana, and son, Ali, appealing for help in order to reconnect with their mother, whom Iranian authorities apparently barred from speaking with them by phone.

In the clip, also shared by AI, Ali said he and his sister hadn’t heard Mohammadi’s voice for 11 months.

“She should have the right to come and see her children,” Rahmani said. ”What sin did her children commit that they should be deprived of a visit from their mother?”

Iranian authorities said they detained Mohammadi in 2015 to resume her six-year prison sentence from 2011 related to her peaceful human rights work. She was arrested and released several times in the six years preceding her 2015 incarceration.

Iran’s judiciary sentenced Mohammadi again in 2016 to a 16-year jail term for involvement with another peaceful advocacy group, the Campaign for Step by Step Abolition of the Death Penalty. Under Iranian law, the effective length of her sentence was reduced to 10 years.

This year, Iranian authorities filed several new national security-related charges against Mohammadi for her peaceful human rights activism inside prison.

Rahmani told VOA the outcome of those investigations was not yet clear, and his wife’s lawyers continue their work on her defense.

This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Lipin reported from Washington and Yazdiha from Istanbul. Click here for the original Persian version of the story. 

Voice of America – English