The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Issues Opinion Condemning Detention of Isa Saharkhiz and Demanding His Immediate Release

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Issues Opinion Condemning Detention of Isa Saharkhiz and Demanding His Immediate Release

On Sunday, August 1, 2010, attorneys for Isa Saharkhiz received the Opinion of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declaring his detention by the Iranian government to be “arbitrary” and requesting that the Iranian government “order his immediate and unconditional release,” “guarantee him a fair trial according to international standards,” and consider reparations owed to Mr. Saharkhiz for his arrest and detention. 

Mr. Isa Saharkhiz, 56 years-old, is a well-known Iranian journalist and a former editor for two prestigious Iranian news publications, the monthly magazine Aftab, and newspaper Akhbar-e-Eghtesad.  On July 4, 2009, plainclothes members of the Iranian police and/or the Sepah-e-Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, arrested Mr. Saharkhiz, without informing him of the charges against him or the legal basis of his detention.  The agents severely beat Mr. Saharkhiz during the arrest, resulting in numerous injuries, including fractured ribs, and injuries to his chest, shoulder and wrists.  The authorities subjected Mr. Saharkhiz to further abuse following his arrest and during his detention in solitary confinement.  Mr. Saharkhiz’s arrest came just two days after he printed articles criticizing the Iranian Government’s handling of last year’s Presidential election.

Earlier this summer, Iranian authorities charged Mr. Saharkhiz with propaganda against the State and offending the government’s senior officials, including the Supreme Leader.   Mr. Saharkhiz has denied the allegations and, in a statement before the Iranian courts, alleged that he had been tortured and beaten during his detention in prison.  Mr. Saharkhiz also publicly condemned the 2009 Iranian Presidential election as a “coup” and asserted that the Iranian Constitution protects the rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.  Iranian authorities have yet to publicly respond to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s ruling.  As of today, Mr. Saharkhiz remains jailed in Iran’s notorious Evin prison.

Bahram Seyedin-Noor and Nema Milaninia of the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati represented Mr. Saharkhiz in the petition on a pro bono basis.   For questions regarding this matter, please contact Mehdi Saharkhiz at onlymehdi@gmail.com.

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