New York, July 20, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is dismayed to learn that veteran Iranian journalist Mashallah Shamsolvaezin has been summoned to serve a 16-month prison term that was unjustly levied in 2010.
Shamsolvaezin is a journalist, political analyst, deputy chairman of the now-defunct Iranian Journalists Association, and spokesman for the Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press. In December 2010, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison on charges of “insulting the president” and “weakening the Islamic Republic regime.”
On Sunday, he received a summons to appear before the Evin Prison court for “sentence implementation,” which necessitates that Shamsolvaezin report to the prison within three days, according to the website of the Committee for Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) and other news outlets. “In the summons document I received, the reason is stated as ‘sentence implementation’ and it indicated that failure to appear would lead to an arrest warrant,” Shamsolvaezin told CHRR.
Judicial authorities also served the journalist’s mother with notice that her home would be confiscated if Shamsolvaezin failed to appear, CHRR reported. The mother has posted Shamsolvaezin’s bail by offering the deed to her home as collateral.
Shamsolvaezin told CHRR he had filed an appeal of the 2010 ruling, and that he had heard of no decision by the appeals court. Shamsolvaezin’s attorney, Mohammad Seifzadeh, was himself arrested in a recent crackdown on Iranian human rights lawyers. Seifzadeh has since been barred from practicing law and is therefore unable to defend the journalist, according to news accounts quoting Shamsolvaezin.
“Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, among Iran’s most prolific and respected journalists, has been regularly harassed by the government for years,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “Making matters worse, Shamsolvaezin has appealed his prison sentence, and it is outrageous to summon him back to prison to serve time while his appeal is still being adjudicated. The fact that he is not even represented by a lawyer of his choice only underscores how unfair the entire process is.”
Shamsolvaezin was a 2000 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award for courage and independence in reporting the news. He was editor-in-chief of Kian magazine and the now-banned newspapers Jame’eh, Toos, Neshat, and Asr-e-Azadegan. He has also written several children’s books.