Iran has arrested a human rights lawyer after her client was executed earlier this week, Agence France-Presse reported Wednesday.
Citing Iran’s Fars News Agency, AFP reported that Zeinab Taheri was arrested, after asserting that her client, Mohammad Salas, who was executed Monday, was innocent. According to Fars, the reason for Taheri’s arrest was that she had made “false statements” and because of “her lies propagated online claiming (the defendant) was not guilty.”
Gholamhossein Esmaili, the chief justice of Tehran, was quoted by Fars as saying, “The female lawyer who recently claimed to be the defendant’s lawyer and who has gone hoarse saying he is innocent was basically not this person’s lawyer.”
Salas, a bus driver and an adherent of the Sufi branch of Islam, was convicted of driving his bus into a crowd of policemen, killing three, during disturbances between Sufis and Iranian authorities in February. While Sufis are not illegal in Iran, many in power consider their beliefs to be a “deviation.”
Human rights organization have condemned Salas’s trial and execution.
Amnesty International asserted that his trial was “grossly unfair.” According to Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty, Salas was denied access to his lawyer during the trial, and that “key defense witnesses who can testify that he was already in detention when the three policemen were killed,” were not permitted to testify.
The State Department condemned Salas’s execution, asserting that he had been tortured into confessing. The State Department statement also called on “our partners and allies around the world to join us in condemning the brutal and unjust execution of Mr. Salas at the hands of the Iranian regime.” The statement also pointed to the plight of the Sufis, “We call on Iranian authorities to release the hundreds of Sufis who remain imprisoned on account of their beliefs, including the leader of the Gonabadi Sufis, Dr. Noor Ali Tabandeh, 91, who has been under house arrest for at least the past four months and is in need of immediate medical care. The Iranian people deserve rule of law, transparent and accountable governance, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, not the callous impunity that continues to define the regime.”
Taheri is also on the defense team of Ahmadreza Djalali, an academic and resident of Sweden, who was sentenced to death last October for spying for Israel.
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