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Convicted Shi'a cleric must be released

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International:

22 April 1999

Amnesty International is today expressing concern for the sentencing of a Shi'a cleric and religious scholar to 18 months' imprisonment, reportedly on charges related to his conscientiously held beliefs and academic research.

Hojjatoleslam val Moslemin Mohsen Kadivar was sentenced by the Special Court for the Clergy (Dadgah-e Vizhe-ye Ruhaniyat) on 21 April 1999. Amnesty International has in the past expressed its concern that trials before this court frequently fall far short of minimum international fair trial standards.

Amnesty International believes that Mohsen Kadivar is a prisoner of conscience, and calls upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Mohsen Kadivar's trial before the Special Court for the Clergy began on 14 April 1999. He had been arrested on 27 February 1999, after having been called for questioning one week previously.

The charges brought against him reportedly include "propaganda against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic", "publishing lies" and "confusing public opinion". These charges are believed to relate to an article published in the newspaper Khordad on 14 February 1999 in which he appeared to question the role of the clergy in the government of Iran and expressed concerns over controls on freedom of expression. While in prison awaiting the start of his trial, Mohsen Kadivar is reported to have told his family, "My arrest is the price we pay for freedom".

Reports suggest that Mohsen Kadivar intends to appeal against his conviction; however it is as yet unclear whether this appeal will be accepted by the court.

For further information on Amnesty International's concerns about the fairness of trials before the Special Court for the Clergy see Iran- Human Rights Violations Against Shi'a Religious Leaders and their Followers, AI Index MDE 13/18/97, pp 4, 27.


Amnesty International,
International Secretariat,
1 Easton Street,
WC1X 8DJ, London,
United Kingdom


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