Farhad Meysami: Iran frees dissident whose emaciated condition sparked outrage


An Iranian doctor and human rights activist has been released from Tehran’s infamous Evin prison a week after photos of his severely emaciated condition surfaced on social media.

Farhad Meysami was released from prison on Friday, according to Iran’s pro-reform newspaper Shargh Daily. News of his release came when France announced that French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah had also been released from Evin.

Meysami was arrested in 2018 after voicing his support for women protesting the mandatory hijab law. He was accused of “assembling and colluding to act against national security” and of “propaganda against the regime”. according to an Iran-focused group, Human Rights Activists (HRANA).

Images showing her frail body, bulging bones and shaved head caused an outcry on social media when it surfaced last week. Before the photos emerged, a human rights lawyer claiming to represent Meysami said his weight had dropped to 52 kilograms (115 lb) and that he had been “beaten up due to his resistance” to being transferred to a different prison.

The text of a letter purportedly written by Meysami and provided to CNN by lawyer Mohammad Moghimi showed that Meysami had gone on a hunger strike to protest the execution of prisoners, call for the release of several demonstrators and demand an end to repression. of the mandatory hijab law. CNN was unable to verify the authenticity of the letter.

A photo of Iranian activist Farhad Meysami, who is believed to have gone on a hunger strike, appeared on social media in early February.

After images of Meysami circulated online, state-affiliated media last Friday denied that the activist was on a hunger strike and said he was in “good condition”.

News of Meysami and Adelkhah’s release came after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued an amnesty covering a large number of prisoners on Sunday.

The amnesty included some people who were arrested in recent anti-government protests that have swept the country since last fall, according to HRANA.

Nationwide dissent erupted late last year, when decades of bitterness over the regime’s treatment of women and other issues boiled over after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custody by the country’s moral police.

Authorities violently cracked down on the months-long movement, which posed one of the biggest domestic threats to Iran’s ruling clerical regime in more than a decade.

CNN has reached out to the government of Iran for comment on Meysami’s release.

For decades, Evin Prison in the Iranian capital of Tehran has housed political prisoners and dual nationals that Iran refuses to officially recognize.

Meysami’s release came when the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah had also been released from Evin.

The ministry said in a statement on Friday that “France rejoices at the release this evening of Madame Fariba Adelkhah, a researcher at the International Research Center of Sciences Po, who was unjustly detained in Iran at Evin prison.”

It added that it was “essential” that Adelkhah be able to regain all her freedoms “including (being allowed) to return to France if she so wishes”.

Adelkhah was arrested in Iran on June 5, 2019, according to the official Sciences Po website, alongside her colleague and researcher Roland Marchal.
Adelkhah was accused of “propaganda against the political system of the Islamic Republic” and “collusion to undermine national security”.

While Marchal was released on 20 March 2020, Adelkhah was sentenced to five years in prison on 16 May 2020.

Colleagues of French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah meet at Sciences Po in Paris on January 13, 2022.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called Adelkhah’s release a “great joy” in a tweet late on Friday.

The director of the French university Sciences Po, Mathias Vicherat, also responded in a tweet: “What a joy, what a relief to hear the confirmation of the release of our friend, our colleague Fariba Adelkhah.”

France has reiterated its demand for the “immediate release” of all French people arbitrarily detained in Iran, with the foreign minister demanding that his Iranian counterpart immediately release seven French “hostages”.

A ministry spokesman said it was “extremely concerned” about the health of French citizen Benjamin Brière and French-Irish citizen Bernard Phelan in particular.

“It is evident that this policy of state hostages carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran is reprehensible and cannot fail to contribute to a profound degradation of our bilateral relations such as Iran’s relations with Europe”, said the spokesman on Thursday. -fair.

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