In an open letter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani, the sister of an imprisoned environmentalist says her family has been cautioned by authorities to keep quiet about their relative’s detention, lest he be executed.
In a letter published on June 06 by the Campaign for the Defense of Civil and Political Prisoners Katayoun Rajabi, sister of Sam Rajabi, wrote that “it is not yet clear who is behind” her brother’s arrest.
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) agents stormed Sam Rajabi’s residence on the evening of January 25 and arrested him. He has been held incommunicado ever since, and his relatives say their efforts to discover his whereabouts and the status of the case against him have been met with threats and intimidation.
Seven other environmentalists and members of the renowned Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, including its 63-year-old founder Iranian-Canadian Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, were arrested the same day as Rajabi. Two weeks later Seyed-Emami died in police custody, with police claiming he committed suicide, an explanation rejected by his family, lawyers, and two MPs.
The other environmentalists arrested are Ms. Niloufar Bayani, Hooman Jowkar, Ms. Sepideh Kashani, her husband Taher Qadirian, Amir Hossain Khaleqi, and Iranian-American businessmn Morad Tahbaz. They stand accused of espionage against the regime along with scores of other environmentalists who have been arrested across the country in recent months.
Intererstingly, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has stated publicly that there is no evidence linking the environmentalists to espionage.
Sima Rajabi says that while her brother has not yet even had a trial and no evidence against him has been presented, state-run TV has attacked him in its broadcasts and accused him of espionage.
Referring to Rouhani’s constitutional right to supervise other powers of the state as the President of the Islamic Republic, Sima Rajabi asked, “Is it not against the country’s constitution to interrogate a suspect deprived of having access to legal counsel?” adding, “Mr. President, based on your own Citizen’s Rights Charter, who is responsible for these blatant violations of the law?”
Earlier, Sam Rajabi’s mother had also called upon the authorities to review her son’s case.
“My son was not a spy,” Rajabi’s mother, Lili Houshmand Afshar, told the New York based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) February 11. She said she went in person twice to Iran’s notorious Even Prison, where the family suspect he is being held, and asked after her son, but was turned away.
“He had the opportunity to live abroad, but he preferred to stay and serve his own country,” she said. “My son is instinctively honorable. He’s not a spy.”