Hamed Aynehvand

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Iranian journalist Hamed Aynehvand is serving a six-year-sentence in Evin prison on charges of "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion against national security." He was arrested on July 28, 2018, and kept in solitary confinement for 44 days before being transferred to the public ward. Aynehvand was then tried without a lawyer and convicted and sentenced on December 25, 2018. His appeal hearing, scheduled for July 9, 2019, did not officially convene; instead, the court automatically upheld his initial verdict.

Aynehvand, a freelance reporter, covers political news and writes commentary for the government-owned newspaper Iran and several news websites based abroad, such as Gooya, Zeitoon and Iran Global, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Agents of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ intelligence unit arrested Aynehvand on June 28, 2018, as he was leaving the National Library in Tehran, and kept him in solitary confinement at Evin prison for a month and a half, according to CHRI.

Judge Mohammad Moghiseh of Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced the journalist to six years in prison on December 25, 2018, on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security,” according to the journalist’s lawyer, Hossein Bayat, who spoke with the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The judge denied Aynehvand a lawyer of his choice, instead ordering him to choose from a list of 100 lawyers approved by the judiciary; Aynehvand refused, and was tried and convicted without a lawyer, according to a report by the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), citing Bayat, and CHRI.  

The judge used political writing that Aynehvand published in several media outlets in Iran as evidence against him, CHRI reported. According to CHRI, he was arrested after criticizing state policies in his work, but CPJ could not determine which specific publications were cited.

His appeal session was scheduled for July 9, 2019, at Branch 36 of Tehran’s Appeals Court, according to Bayat, the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that day. Bayat told HRANA, Aynehvand was transferred to the court from prison, but the session was not officially held and the judge did not agree to the lawyer’s request to release him on bail.

The appeals court upheld Aynehvand’s original sentence of six years in prison, Bayat told CHRI on August 13, 2019. “Before the preliminary court’s decision, there were people who told me not to bother because for sure Hamed was going to get six years in prison and the appeals court would go along with it,” he told CHRI. “And that’s what happened.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, recently issued an order to the head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, that courts throughout the country eliminate the appeals process for political prisoners accused of anti-state crimes, effectively upholding all initial verdicts, according to HRANA. HRANA reported on August 22, 2019, that Gholamhossein Esmaeili, Iran’s judiciary spokesman, wrote a letter to all appeals court judges on July 21 to that effect.

Aynehvand was not included in CPJ’s December 1, 2018, prison census because his arrest and detention were not made public until December 25, 2018, the day of his conviction.

As of October 2019, Aynehvand was imprisoned in Evin prison, according to HRANA. CPJ was unable to determine the status of his health.

CPJ was unable to contact Iran’s Ministry of Justice or the judiciary of Tehran province via their websites, which were not functioning. CPJ could not locate an email address, website, or phone number for Evin prison. CPJ emailed Iran’s mission to the United Nations in October 2019, but did not receive a response.