Abdolfattah Soltani is a well-known advocate with the human rights center in Tehran. He was arrested in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed June 12 presidential election; according to the International Campaign for Human Rights, he is being held at the notorious Evin prison, the same place where a number of Baha’is, including the seven former Baha’i leaders (Yaran, meaning “Friends”) who are his clients, are detained.
The following is a translation of an open letter that his wife, Masumeh Dehqan, has written to the head of judiciary about the situation of her husband, expressing her deep concern over the condition of her husband and the absence of appropriate legal proceedings.
It should be noted that only recently, after the completion of a ten-year tenure by the former head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has appointed a new hardliner, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, to this post. Larijani is the younger brother of Iran’s well-known parliament speaker Ali Larijani, and is currently a member of Iran’s powerful electoral watchdog Guardian Council, which last month rejected charges of vote-rigging in the disputed June 12 presidential election.
The decree appointing Larijani to succeed Shahrudi came with a caveat from Ayatollah Khamenei, who insisted that “quick and easy justice be applied” by the judicial branch during his new tenure. Ayatollah Khamenei has come under harsh criticism for the arbitrary imprisonment of opposition demonstrators, so the wording of the decree could be designed to appease opposition leaders. Nonetheless, no changes in the manner in which judiciary operates in Iran has been discerned.
The open letter of Masumeh Dehqan reads in translation:
To the honored chief of the judiciary, Mr. Larijani
Regarding the arrest of Abdolfattah Soltani, grade one legal counselor, I hereby submit:
Mr. Soltani was arrested at his work seventy days ago. This occurred on June 17, and was based on the mass arrest of protestors against the recent election. The warrant for his arrest was issued by the prosecutor who was in a legal confrontation with Mr. Soltani on certain cases.
It has now been 70 days since he has been incarcerated without charges. In accordance with legal codes, after 60 days the accused must be either released or his warrant renewed.
Therefore, you are requested to consider: If the worth and authority of every government is measured by the proper functioning of its judiciary; if the judiciary system is based on equity and law; if the judiciary is to control the influence of those outside of the judiciary; if judges are to be independent; if proof and evidence overrides personal animosities and interpretations; if being unbiased is one of the requirements for the judiciary; if ensuring the preservation of civil rights is one of the judiciary’s objectives; if the judiciary is apolitical; if [any single one of these conditions is true], then I ask that you personally follow up on the case of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, grade one lawyer in the judiciary.
I ask for this since the deputy of the Security Agency has threatened him with a long imprisonment and the warrant for his arrest was issued by the prosecutor Amin Rasekh, though the other side of the legal dispute, (headed by prosecutor Murtazavi) has not allowed the case to appear in court. In this case, my husband’s civil rights have been thoroughly disregarded. For instance, his right to meet in person with his family has been completely forgotten. Also, he has been forced to wear an eye cover.
All of this is happening at a time when everyone knows well that Mr. Soltani is only a legal activist and has not participated in any political process.
Therefore, I ask your good offices to investigate the file of Mr. Soltani, and I express hope for his early release in accordance with your positive comments.
Masumeh Dehqan, the wife of Abdolfattah Soltani.
[Posted on Saturday, August 22, 2009, at Iran Press News. Translation by Iran Press Watch.]