New Charges Filed Against Jailed Iranian Rights Activist, Her Brothers

Source: RFE/RL’s RadioFarda

Fatemeh Sepehri (file photo)

Iran’s judiciary has filed new charges against Fatemeh Sepehri, a prominent opponent of the Islamic Republic, and her two brothers, who are also imprisoned, for “insulting” current and former leaders of the Islamic Republic.

Asghar Sepehri, Fatemeh’s brother, revealed the charges on social media, saying they were added to their case files by Ali Soleymani Marshk, an investigating judge in Mashhad, after a court session on May 6.

Details of the charges were not immediately available.

The charges for being critical of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini follow the arrest of the siblings in October 2023, just a day before Fatemeh Sepehri was scheduled for surgery at Ghaem Hospital in Mashhad.

In September 2023, her brothers Mohamad-Hossein Sepehri and Hossein Sepehri were detained.

Fatemeh Sepehri, a vocal critic of the Iranian regime, has been detained for more than 20 months.

Her family has reported that her communications from prison are heavily monitored.

Fatemeh Sepehri is one of 14 activists in Iran who have publicly called for Khamenei to step down. She has been arrested and interrogated several times in recent years.

Sepehri and the other activists have also called for a new political system within the framework of a new constitution that would secure dignity and equal rights for women.

Criticism of Khamenei, who has the last say on almost every decision in Iran, is considered a red line in Iran, and his critics often land in prison, where political prisoners are routinely held in solitary confinement and subjected to various forms of torture.

Sepehri was arrested in September 2022 as protests erupted across the country over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was taken into custody by the morality police for allegedly violating the country’s hijab law and died while in detention.

In March 2023, a Mashhad Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 18 years in prison on various charges, including “collaboration with hostile states” and “propaganda against the regime.”

The sentence was upheld on appeal, but according to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, only 10 years of her sentence are enforceable.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda