October 16, 2008

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom
Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: info@leader.ir

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

His Exellency Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejele
Ministry of Intelligence
Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: iranprobe@iranprobe.com

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the overturned death sentence of Iranian Kurdish journalist and writer Adnan Hassanpour. However, we remain concerned over his upcoming retrial.

According to our information, Adnan Hassanpour, an advocate of cultural rights for Iranian Kurds, was arrested on January 25, 2007, and was initially convicted of being a “mohareb” (enemy of God), and “acting against national security, ” reportedly for expressing his views on Kurdish issues. He was sentenced to death on July 16, 2007, and his sentence was upheld on appeal by the Supreme Court on October 22, 2007. On September 4, 2008, the Tehran Supreme Court overturned the death sentence on procedural grounds, and his case was sent back to the lower court in Sanandaj, Iranian Kurdistan. A new trial was due to open on September 6, 2008 on charges of “working for outlawed parties” and “espionage,” for which he could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

Adnan Hassanpour is a former member of the editorial board of the Kurdish-Persian weekly journal Aso, which was banned by the Iranian authorities in August 2005 following widespread unrest in Kurdish areas. He had previously been tried in connection with articles published in the journal. Hassanpour is also a member of the Kurdish Writer’s Association.

PEN American Center welcomes the decision to overturn the death sentence handed to Adnan Hassanpour, but remains deeply concerned about his retrial. PEN believes he is being held in violation of Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, and therefore respectfully calls for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all those currently detained in Iranian Kurdistan solely for the peaceful expression of their views.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
              
Hannah Pakula               
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee
   
Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency,
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 6 674 790
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: 212-867-7086
Email: iran@un.int

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