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January 30, 2023

Keyvan Samimi, a well-known political prisoner, is released

Dissident Iranian journalist Keyvan Samimi, 74, was released from prison last Thursday, his family confirmed. Samimi was arrested in May 2019 for participating in a peaceful protest outside of the Iranian parliament on International Workers’ Day in Tehran. A year later, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to three years in prison on charges of  “assembly and collusion against the state. The verdict was upheld by Branch 32 of the Appeals Court on July 27, 2020. Samimi began serving his prison sentence in December 2020 at Evin prison and was later transferred to Karaj Central Prison in Alborz province without a court order on January 17, 2022. However, it is unclear how long Samimi’s newfound and welcome freedom will last. 

In February 2022, Samimi was allowed to return home following concerns about his health. However, in May, he was arrested and exiled to Semnan Prison to complete the remainder of his sentence after he was accused of engaging in activities that threatened national security. During his incarceration, Samimi issued a message in support of the youth-led protests that have swept Iran since September. “Your protest and inextinguishable uprising have shaken the pillars of tyranny,” Samimi said. “You can bring the gray crowd to the movement by avoiding seeing different tastes in black,” he added. 

Samini has often promoted human rights and democracy in his decades-long career as an influential journalist and a political activist. An outspoken critic of the Iranian government, Samini was arrested in 2009 during the Green Movement and given a six-year prison sentence on charges that included “assembly and collusion against national security,” ​​“propaganda against the regime,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.”  During his six years in prison, he served four months in solitary confinement and only received two brief furloughs. Upon completing his prison sentence, the political activist was released on May 16, 2015. After being released from prison, he worked as a journalist for over three years. In addition to being editor-in-chief of Iran Farda magazine, he was also the head of the Iranian Writers Association.

Although Samimi has been released from prison, it is uncertain whether he will be able to keep his freedom. “The Tehran prosecutor issued a new indictment against Keyvan Samimi last month, accusing him of rallying against the country’s security and referred the case to the Revolutionary Court,” his family said on Thursday. 

The National Iranian American Council calls upon the international community to strongly condemn the Islamic Republic’s suppression and unjust imprisonment of journalists like Keyvan Samimi who have dedicated their lives to shining a light on injustice. The Iranian people deserve to live in an open and democratic country where all citizens can participate in social and political discourse without fear of reprisal from the state. 

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