Washington, D.C.: Freedom Now is pleased to announce that Iranian labor rights activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh has been released from prison nearly five years before the official conclusion of his sentence.
“We welcome the release of Behnam and hope that he remains free so that he can recuperate from his unjust imprisonment and the prolonged suffering he has been subjected to,” said Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner, speaking on behalf of the full legal and advocacy team. “Despite this positive development, we are reminded that hundreds of individuals remain detained in Iran for exercising their fundamental rights. We call on the government to release all prisoners of conscience, including Abdolfattah Soltani and Baquer and Siamak Namazi.”
Prior to his arrest in June 2010, Mr. Ebrahimzadeh was a member of both the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations in Iran, where he worked to protect the right to form trade unions, and the Association to Defend Child Laborers, where he assisted child laborers in obtaining an education.
Mr. Ebrahimzadeh was arrested in June 2010 when he was accused of participating in a demonstration. After a trial without his lawyer present, Mr. Ebrahimzadeh was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which was reduced to 5 years on appeal. In December 2014, towards the end of his sentence and while still in jail, Mr. Ebrahimzadeh was charged with new offenses, including communicating with the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran. A new trial was held, which his lawyer was prevented from attending. Mr. Ebrahimzadeh was found guilty of “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against internal and external security of the country” and sentenced to nine years and four months. On appeal, this was reduced to seven years, 10 months, and 15 days along with a fine.
Mr. Ebrahimzadeh served his sentence in the non-political ward of the notorious Rajaie Shahr Prison. He was subject to indiscriminate beatings by both prisoners and guards, denied medical treatment, and physically threatened by security agents.
“We are greatly relieved that Behnam is finally free and has been reunited with his wife and son,” said Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran spokesperson Shiva Mahbobi. “However, years of unjust imprisonment in harsh conditions have had a dire effect on his health. We urge the Iranian government to ensure his continued freedom and to ensure he faces no further harassment.”
Maran Turner and Kate Barth with Freedom Now, Greg McGillivary and Diana Nobile with Woodley and McGillivary, Shazia Akhtar with Hardwicke Chambers, and Paul Heron with the Public Interest Law Unit of Lambeth Law Centre served as Mr. Ebrahimzadeh’s international pro bono counsel. In March 2017, Ms. Akhtar addressed the UN Human Rights Council regarding Mr. Ebrahimzadeh’s case. You can watch a video of her statement here.