Nafiseh Azad, Acquitted in Appeals Ruling

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Change for Equality: Nafiseh Azad, a member of the Campaign who had been arrested along with two others, while collecting signatures, was acquitted in a ruling issued by an appeals court. Azad was arrested with two other members of the Campaign in Tochal Mountains on January 30, 2009 and released after six days in detention. She was charged with actions against national security, through the spreading of propaganda against the state.

In her initial court hearing she was sentenced to one year suspended sentence. This sentence was overturned by the appeals court, which has acquitted her on the charges. Prior to this other members of the Campaign who had been arrested while collecting signatures or charged with activities in the Campaign had also been acquitted, including Raha Asgarizadeh, Nasim Khosravi and Parastoo Allahyari.

Zohreh Arzani, the lawyer representing Nafiseh Azad in this case explained to the site of Change for Equality that: “given the fact that collection of signatures is not a crime according to Iranian law, and given that other Campaigns have been created during this same period focused on defending the rights of Palestinians and objecting to war, the charge of spreading of propaganda against the state with respect to the civil and peaceful activities of the Campaign is not a legally founded charge.”

This acquittal ruling is issued at a time when some of the other members of the Campaign have been charged with security crimes in relation to their membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign. Jelve Javaheri, Maryam Malek and Khadijeh Moghaddam have all been charged with illegal membership in the One Million Signatures Campaign. Given the fact that the One Million Signatures Campaign is focused on collection of signatures in support of its petition, if the act of collecting signatures is not considered to be a crime, then it logically follows that membership in the Campaign is not illegal.

Prior to this ruling, Nahid Mirhaj who was arrested with eight other women’s rights activists on June 12, 2008 as they planned to hold a seminar at the Silk Road Gallery was acquitted on charges of disrupting public order. In relation to the same case, Jelve Javaheri, who was also arrested on June 12, 2008 at the same event, was sentenced to six months mandatory prison on charges of collusion with intent to hold an illegal protest. She plans to appeal the ruling.


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