19 January 2024: PEN International and the undersigned PEN Centres condemn the retaliatory 15-month sentence against writer, human rights defender, and Nobel Peace laureate Narges Mohammadi, resulting in a combined sentence of 12 years and three months in prison.
We call for all retaliatory sentences against Mohammadi to be quashed and reiterate our call for her immediate and unconditional release. We remain deeply concerned about Mohammadi’s deteriorating health, and stress that Iranian authorities should ensure her unconditional access to medical care pending her release.
On 15 January, Narges Mohammadi’s family informed PEN International that she was sentenced to an additional 15 months in prison. On completion of her prison sentence she would be subjected to further restrictions, including two years of exile outside Tehran and neighbouring provinces, and a two-year ban from travel, use of a smartphone and membership of political or social groups. The Revolutionary Court convicted Mohammadi on charges including “spreading propaganda against the regime.” The conviction came as a part of the series of investigations the Iranian authorities initiated since January 2023 into Mohammadi’s activism in prison, including her writings and criticism of the government. According to her family, Mohammadi was convicted in absentia by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on 19 December following an unfair trial. The latest sentencing is Mohammadi’s fifth conviction since March 2021 and her third while incarcerated.
In August 2023, PEN International strongly condemned the additional one-year retaliatory sentence against Narges Mohammadi over similar charges of “propaganda against the regime”. In November 2023, PEN International expressed deep concerns that Evin prison authorities have refused to transfer Mohammadi to a hospital to receive vital medical care because she refused to wear a headscarf. The latest conviction increases the total sentence against Mohammadi to 12 years and three months, 154 lashes, and two years of exile, and enforces a further travel ban and various restrictions on her social and political activism.
Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian writer, journalist, human rights defender, and Honorary Member of the Danish, Belgian, Norwegian, Canidian and Swedish PEN centres. She is the former Vice-President and spokesperson of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which advocates for human rights reform and represents political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in legal proceedings. Mohammadi also received the 2013 Oxfam Novib / PEN and PEN America’s 2023 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Awards. In October 2023, PEN international praised the decision by the Nobel Committee to award Mohmmadi the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize. She was arrested on several occasions over the past years and has spent prolonged periods in arbitrary imprisonment.
In May 2021, Narges Mohammadi was handed a new sentence of 30 months in prison and 80 lashes, just months after she was released in October 2020 after serving five and a half years in prison. Her conviction stemmed from several trumped-up charges, including “propaganda against the regime”, “defamation”, and “rebellious conduct while incarcerated”. Mohammadi believes that the conviction against her was in retaliation over a complaint she made against the director of Evin Prison. She was arbitrarily arrested on 16 November 2021 while attending a memorial service in Karaj City for Ebrahim Ketabdars, who was shot and killed by security forces during a protest in November 2019.
For more information on Narges Mohammadi’s case history, click here
Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann
For more information, please contact Mina Thabet, Head of the MENA Region, at email: Mina.Thabet@pen-international.org