Amnesty International: Journalist Shiva Nazar Ahari may face death penalty

Further information on UA: 347/09 Index: MDE 13/086/2010 Iran Date: 23 August 2010

Journalist and human rights defender Shiva Nazar Ahari appears to have been charged with moharebeh (enmity with God), which can carry the death penalty. Her next hearing is scheduled for 4 September 2010. She is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and association.

Shiva Nazar Ahari, who is a member of the Iranian organization, the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), has been detained since 20 December 2009. Apparently charged with of moharebeh, under Article 186 of the Iranian Penal Code, she has also been charged with “assembly and collusion to commit a crime” (Article 610) and “propaganda against the Regime” (Article 500). Amnesty International fears that such vague charges do not amount to a recognizably criminal offence. She is being tried in Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Judicial officials and pro-government news agencies have publicly accused the CHRR and Shiva Nazar Ahari of contacting a banned group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) , The CHRR and Shiva Nazar Ahari have strenuously denied these accusations.

According to her mother, in April 2010, Shiva Nazar Ahari was charged with “causing unease in the public mind through writing on the CHRR’s website and other sites” and “acting against national security by participating in [anti-government] demonstrations on 4 November 2009 and 7 December 2009.”. Shiva Nazar Ahari denied attending the demonstrations, saying that she had been at work on those days.

She has been in solitary confinement for much of the time. In February 2010 she told her family by phone that she had been placed in a “cage-like” solitary confinement cell where she could not move her arms and legs. She has had only limited access to her family.

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