July 5, 2017-- Iranian judicial authorities are refusing to free an elderly political prisoner who was incarcerated for visiting close family members that are members of a opposition group.
Ali Moezzi, a 65-year-old man who has been mostly without legal counsel since his arrest in 2008, has been transferred to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary despite completing his sentence on May 22, 2017 and being in poor health.
He is also facing more prison time.
“Ali’s sons are members of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MEK) and were based in Camp Ashraf in Iraq,” Mohammad Moezzi told CHRI.
“In 2008, Ali went to Iraq to see them and when he came back he was charged with ‘assembly and collusion against national security’ and given a two-year prison sentence and a suspended three-year sentence by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court,” he added.
Continued Mohammad Moezzi: “He was freed in November 2010, but six months later he was arrested again for attending the funeral of a former cellmate, Ali Saremi, who had been executed, and sentenced to a year in prison for ‘propaganda against the state.’ They also enforced his previous three-year suspended sentence. In May 2016, it was the same story. He was close to being freed, but instead was tried for ‘propaganda against the state’ and sentenced to another year in prison.”
Ali Moezzi has been without legal counsel for most of his imprisonment. In 2008, he was briefly represented by human rights lawyer Giti Pourfazel. Later on, Judge Abolqasem Salavati refused to allow attorney Amir Salar Davoudi to represent him.
“Now we are in 2017 and my brother was supposed to go free in May, but they are not releasing him,” Mohammad Moezzi told CHRI. “The authorities say they filed new charges against him and there were two court dates, but my brother refused to appear because they had chained his hands and feet.”
“Ali’s interrogator told him, ‘We will not let you go free,’ but we really didn’t imagine they would keep filing fake charges against him,” he added. “Of course, my brother has signed (political) statements while in prison and protested against the execution of his cellmates. They have used these as excuses to keep him in prison.”
The ailing political prisoner, who was treated for bladder cancer in 2011 and suffers from pains in his kidney and urinary tract, was moved from Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary on May 1, 2017.
“The prison is in poor condition,” Mohammad Moezi told CHRI. “It’s a very bad place in terms of sanitation and facilities and he doesn’t have a bed.”
“I don’t know why they sent him there because there’s no history of political prisoners being kept there,” he added.