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Student Imprisoned for Refusing to Spy for Iran’s Intelligence Ministry Denied Visitation Rights

CHRI - Imprisoned for refusing to spy for Iran's Intelligence Ministry, Hamid Babaei has been denied visitation rights at Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran.

"Today [July 26], like every other Wednesday, I went to [Rajaee Shahr] prison to visit my husband and was informed that he has been banned from receiving visits," said his wife Kobra Parsajou in a Facebook post on July 26, 2017. "I insisted to know why and they said he had been banned for committing some violation. I told them I live far away and have to take leave from work to come here, but no matter how much I begged, no one listened."

Continued Parsajou: "Hamid was worried and kept asking the guards why he had not been called for visitation. He was told he would be called whenever his family arrived. When visitation hours ended, Hamid contacted me [by phone]. His voice was shaking. He was worried I might have been hurt on the dangerous road I have committed myself to travel on for the past five years in order to see him. When I told him the story, he said he had no idea what had happened."

Babaei, 34, was pursuing a doctorate in finance at the University of Liège in Belgium when he was summoned to the Intelligence Ministry in Tehran while visiting family on August 13, 2013. He was arrested the same day after he declined the ministry's offer for him to cooperate as a spy in Belgium.

Babaei was sentenced on December 21, 2013 to six years in prison, with an additional four-year suspended term for "espionage and contact with enemy states" by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court.

In the interview with CHRI, Babaei's wife accused the judiciary of being more lenient on rich or famous people accused of criminal acts. She pointed to the corruption case of former Vice President Hamid Baghaei, who was released on $6.1 million bail on July 26.

"Those like Hamid Baghaei can go free because they easily toy with the whole judicial system and can afford to post millions in bail," said Parsajou. "But Sharif University honor students like Hamid Babaei can't play this game because they have no voice."

Babaei received a bachelors degree in mathematics from Iran's prominent Sharif University of Technology in 2006 and his masters degree with honors in industrial engineering from Iran's University of Science and Industry in 2008.

Despite having served more than half of his sentence, Babaei remains in prison in violation of Article 58 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code, which allows the deciding judge to "issue the order of conditional release for convicts sentenced to more than ten years' imprisonment after half the sentence is served, and in other cases after one-third of the sentence is served."