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Ailing Political Activist Detained Without Charge Subjected to Three-Month Solitary Confinement and Renewed Interrogations

CHRI - Hengameh Shahidi's Family Under Media Ban

More than three months after her arrest and detainment, ailing political activist Hengameh Shahidi has not been charged and is in poor health while being subjected to interrogations and solitary confinement in Evin Prison, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

"(Shahidi) has been in solitary confinement for 98 days," the source told CHRI on June 15, 2017. "She has been subjected to long interrogations without seeing daylight. She is suffering from heart disease and her incarceration and hunger strike have brought about severe pains in her kidneys and ovaries for which she has been transferred to the hospital and the prison clinic several times."

Shahidi's family has also been told to stop talking to the media about her case.

"The authorities have gotten a written pledge from Shahidi's mother (Nahid Kermanshahi) to stop talking to foreign media," said the source, who asked not to be identified for security reasons. "(Kermanshahi) has been going to the prosecutor's office every day to convince the authorities to free her daughter on bail so that she could be hospitalized."

Shahidi was initially held in Evin Prison's Ward 209 where she was questioned by Intelligence Ministry agents. Recently she has been subjected to renewed interrogations by the judiciary's intelligence unit in Ward 241, the source told CHRI.

"We don't know why another agency has been interrogating her and still no charges have been brought against her after all this time," added the source.

Shahidi, a 41-year-old former journalist and advisor to detained opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi who has been under extrajudicial house arrest since February 2011, was detained without charge on March 9, 2017 in Mashhad, northeastern Iran, and flown overnight to Evin Prison in Tehran.

On March 15 she began a hunger strike to protest her detention without due process. Two months later she fainted in front of her family from the effects of refusing food, an informed source told CHRI at the time.

Defense attorney Mostafa Tork Hamadani, who has been asked by Shahidi's family to represent her, told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) on June 13 that he had sought the help of Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahhari.

"Given that the Intelligence Ministry is the plaintiff in Hengameh Shahidi's case, Mr. Motahhari asked the (intelligence) minister (Mahmoud Alavi) to give an explanation about her case and Mr. Alavi replied, but Mr. Motahhari was not convinced," said Hamadani.

Hamadani, who cannot officially represent Shahidi until he is approved by the judiciary, wrote a letter to the intelligence minister in early June warning of the consequences of inaction in the face of Shahidi's rapidly deteriorating health.

"A situation similar to what happened to the late Sattar Beheshti should be avoided," wrote Hamadani in the letter, referring to a young Iranian blogger who died under police interrogation on November 3, 2012.

"The initial interrogation phase has dragged on longer than usual, which appears to indicate that there was not enough evidence to attach any charges to the suspect before she was arrested," continued Hamadani. "Otherwise, only a couple of hours would have been sufficient to investigate a case such as this."

"If this situation is true, any extracted statements or confessions would be considered invalid and all the actions of the apprehending authority would be unlawful," he added.