ICHR strongly calls for the release of the 8 wildlife conservationists in Iran who have been accused of espionage after using cameras to track endangered species.
They were subjected to torture & other ill-treatments including prolonged solitary confinement all to extract forced confessions.
The eight scientists are linked to the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation that had been conducting research into Iran’s endangered animals, including the Asiatic cheetah and Persian leopard. Now they could be facing the death penalty or more than a decade in prison.
Iran’s authorities must release them and drop the outrageous espionage-related charges immediately and unconditionally.
Protecting endangered wildlife is not a crime. These conservationists are scientists who were conducting a legitimate research.
The authorities have accused the these scientists of using scientific and environmental projects as a cover to collect classified military information.
The eight conservationists were arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on 24 and 25 January 2018.
Kavous Seyed-Emami, a Canadian-Iranian scientist and academic, died under suspicious circumstances in Evin prison two weeks after his arrest. The authorities claimed that he had committed suicide and refused to release his body unless his family agreed to an immediate burial without an independent autopsy.
The international Centre for human Rights has called on the Iranian authorities to conduct an impartial investigation into his death.
Niloufar Bayani, Houman Jowkar, Morad Tahbaz and Taher Ghadirian, were charged with “corruption on earth” and could be sentenced to death penalty.
Amirhossein Khaleghi, Sepideh Kashani and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, were charged with espionage and if convicted could face up to 10 years in prison.
Sam Rajabi, was charged with “co-operating with hostile states against the Islamic Republic” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”. He could face up to 11 years in prison.
These charges against them are utterly baseless from their peaceful conservation activities. If they are convicted it would be an outrageous mockery of justice and a devastating strike for Iran’s scientific community.
These harassments and intimidation’s of wildlife conservationists by the Iran’s authorities through fabricated charges is another example of how peaceful activities are considered criminal by the Iranian authorities. The international community must speak out to call for these scientists’ immediate release.