Hamzeh Karami

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Karami, editor of the now-defunct reformist news website Jomhoriyat, was arrested on June 19, 2009, according to the website Nedaye Sabz-e-Azadi. Iranian authorities had banned Jomhoriyat just one week before, the Asr-e-Iran news website reported.

He was charged with “acting against national security through congregation and mutiny intended to disrupt public order,” “propagating against the regime,” “propagating falsehoods,” and embezzlement, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. His original 16-year prison sentence was reduced to 11 years on appeal, the Committee of Human Rights Reporters reported in May 2010. He was also fined the equivalent of US$600,000.

Karami, a close ally of reformist politician Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, was coerced into confessions implicating himself and others, according to Reporters and Human Rights Activists of Iran.

Despite his conviction, Karami paid a US$2 million bail and was released on furlough in May 14, 2010, according to the Kalame reformist news website. But authorities sent him back to prison after he refused to testify against Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president turned government critic.

In an August 2010 open letter to the prosecutor-general, Karami said he had been tortured in custody, coerced into making false confessions, threatened with rape, told his family members were being subjected to violence, denied access to a lawyer, and forced to witness other inmates being beaten. Kalame reported in September that Karami had been denied medical leave for his heart condition.