Narges Mohammedi, the deputy director of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Center, was taken from her home in Tehran early May 5.
Leading Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammedi was arrested in the early morning on May 5. She was arrested at her home in the capital Tehran and is believed to be being held in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison, where many political prisoners are kept.
She is deputy director of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Center and has been imprisoned by the regime for her activism in the past. In 2010 she was arrested and in 2012 she was sentenced to six years in prison. In 2011 she was released early on health grounds.
Defenders of Human Rights Center is headed by Noble Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi. She has been in exile in the UK since 2009.
The reasons for the timing of Mohammedi's arrest are unknown.
Mohammedi was facing charges over her civil activities, but was summoned before the Revolutionary Court on May 3. She attended the hearing and reportedly complied fully with regime demands. The court had granted her an extension, ostensibly so that her lawyers could review her case file.
Prior to the hearing her lawyers had not been allowed to view the charges, which were read out loud in court.
She is facing three charges:
“propaganda against the state”
“assembly and collusion against national security”
“establishing the anti-security and illegal ‘Step by Step to Stop Death Penalty’ group.”
‘Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty’ is an Iranian movement to try and abolish the death penalty in Iran.
Mohammedi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the charges against her were brought due to her civil activism and not due to any crime.
She said “Even my presence at a gathering outside the Parliament to protest the acid attacks [against women in Isfahan], is reflected as ‘participation in riots.’ I was extensively interrogated on this subject. I said I participated in a peaceful gathering with hundreds of other citizens, but the interrogator insisted that it was a riot.”
She denied any wrongdoing, saying:
“The reasons for these charges are almost entirely based on my civil activities over the past two years. My interviews with media based outside Iran, my speeches at different ceremonies, my efforts to abolish capital punishment through establishing ‘Step by Step to Stop Death Penalty,’ establishing the ‘Women’s Civil Center,’ continuing my activities with the Defenders of Human Rights Center, and my relationship with [human rights defender and Nobel Peace laureate] Ms. Shirin Ebadi are the most significant reasons cited for my charges.”