April 25, 2012

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street
Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani
c/o Public relations Office
Number 4, 2 Azizi Street
Vali Asr Ave., above Pasteur Street intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,000 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our serious concern regarding the detention of human rights defender and journalist Nargess Mohammadi.

According to our information, on April 21, 2012, Nargess Mohammadi was arrested at her home in the city of Zanjan after receiving a summons from the intelligence ministry. She is believed to have been transferred to the Women’s Ward of Tehran’s Evin Prison to serve a six-year sentence. There are mounting concerns for her well-being in detention.

Nargess Mohammadi was first arrested on June 10, 2010, and released on bail on July 1, 2010, following a severe deterioration of her health. After her release, she spent a month in the hospital and continues to suffer from muscular paralysis, which is exacerbated by stress and pressure. On September 26, 2011, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of “acting against national security,” “membership of the Defender of Human Rights Center (DHRC),” and “propaganda against the regime” for her reporting on human rights violations, cooperation with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, and for visiting political prisoners. She remained free on bail until March 4, 2012, when an appeals court confirmed the conviction and reduced the sentence to six years.

Nargess Mohammadi is an award-winning activist and journalist and the former deputy head of the DHRC founded by Shirin Ebadi. Her husband, Taghi Rahmani, fled the country in May 2011 after spending a total of 17 years in prison. Mohammadi stayed behind in Iran with her six-year-old twins.

PEN American Center protests the detention of Nargess Mohammadi, who is believed to be seriously ill. We seek assurances of her well-being in detention and urge that she be given full access to her family, lawyer, and necessary medical care. We believe Mohammadi and other members of the DHRC have been targeted solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and therefore call for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790

His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the U.N.
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the U.N.
622 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086

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