Gender equality advocate Rezvaneh Mohammadi was tried in absentia in Tehran under the unusual charge of “assembly and collusion against national security by seeking to normalize homosexual relations.”
Mohammadi did not attend her trial session held on February 17, 2019, at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, and presiding Judge Mohammad Moghiseh refused to allow her lawyer to attend, a source with detailed knowledge of the case told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 22, 2019.
“On the day of the trial, Judge Moghiseh told the lawyer he doesn’t accept him and didn’t allow him in the courtroom,” said the source who spoke to CHRI on the condition of anonymity due to security concerns.
The source also told CHRI that after being arrested in September 2018, Mohammadi’s interrogator pressured her to “confess” to receiving money from foreign conference organizers to “overthrow” the Islamic Republic.
This interrogator also told her that she had committed a crime for being a graduate student at Iran Academia, which describes itself as the “first Persian online academy for Social Sciences and Humanities” and is based in The Netherlands.
The source informed CHRI that the charge against Mohammadi was based on her research focusing on gender equality issues, and for attending related workshops.
“Rezvaneh’s attendance at two conferences abroad on the subject of gender equality, as well as her studies for her thesis, which was also about gender equality, were included as evidence against her,” the source said. The interrogators kept asking her questions about these issues.”
The source continued: “From the time of her arrest until her last day in solitary confinement in Ward 209 in Evin Prison, the agents and her interrogator cursed at her and insulted her and she was even threatened with rape. One of the interrogators told her they would build a case against her like no other in the past, which is probably why she was accused of this astonishing charge.”
Mohammadi, 27, was arrested by agents of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in early September 2018 and held until October 20 (including 26 days in solitary confinement), according to the source.
“Around Ferdowsi Sq. [in Tehran], a woman and two men who introduced themselves as Intelligence Ministry agents told her to get into their vehicle,” the source said about the day of the arrest.
“One of the agents showed his identification card but Mohammadi was not given an arrest warrant,” added the source.
“Then they took her to Esteghlal Hotel and questioned her for several hours,” said the source. “Afterwards, they searched her home and confiscated her laptop as well as mobile phones belonging to her and her sister, and her books, undergraduate university certificate, passport and birth certificate.”
Several months before her arrest in September 2018, Mohammadi was also detained overnight in the city of Gorgan, northeastern Iran, for allegedly wearing an improper compulsory hijab.
Center for Human Rights in Iran