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Iran Environmentalists In Prison For Months 'Without Sufficient Evidence'

Iranian Environment activists arrested (from top-left clockwise): Sam Rajabi, Houman Jowkar, Niloufar Bayani, Morad Tahbaz , Kavous Seyed-Emami, Taher Ghadirian, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, and Sepideh Kashani -

Almost ten months after the detention of several Iranian environmentalists, the spokesman of the Islamic Republic's judiciary says that no indictment has been issued for them.

In his weekly press briefing on Sunday, October 14, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei admitted that the reason behind the delay is "some flaws" in the indictment against the detainees. However, he preferred to avoid any reference to the nature of the so-called flaws.

The judiciary and hardliners have accused the environmentalists of espionage, without presenting any evidence.

Earlier, the Rouhani Administration's official news agency, IRNA, had demanded, "Does the delay imply that the Judicial Department has not been able to collect enough proof and evidence against the detained environmentalists?"

Tehran's outspoken pro-reform representative to Majles (Iranian parliament), Mahmoud Sadeghi has also been asking the judiciary to wrap up the case if they have not found enough evidence.

Since January 2018, at least eight environmentalists have been detained in Iran even though the country’s own Intelligence Ministry has admitted there’s no evidence to support the politically motivated charges the detainees are facing.

Among those detained was Iranian-Canadian environmental activist and sociology professor Kavous Seyed Emami, who died in prison under suspicious circumstances.

The judiciary said the 63-year-old managing director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which works to protect endangered animals and raise public awareness about the environment in Iran, had committed suicide in prison.

The claim has been questioned by his family and acquaintances.

“The detention and punishment of environmentalists for their work to conserve and protect the natural environment cannot be justified,” several UN human rights experts said in a joint statement in February 2018, adding, "Nowhere in the world, including Iran, should conservation be equated to spying or regarded as a crime.”