Iranian Cartoonist Atena Farghadani Charged with ‘Indecency’ for Shaking Lawyer’s Hand
Farghadani and her lawyer stand accused of having an “illegitimate sexual relationship.”
The Iranian artist Atena Farghadani, sentenced last month to 12 years and nine months in prison for drawing a satirical cartoon, is now facing “indecency” charges.
According to Amnesty International, Farghadani and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi have been charged with having an “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery” and “indecent conduct” because they shook hands in prison, the Daily Mail reports.
Moghimi was arrested on June 13 and released three days later, after paying a bail set at approximately £40,000 ($60,000). Both Farghadani and Moghimi will be tried for those charges in due course.
Farghadani’s ordeal began last year, when she published on Facebook a cartoon that depicted Iranian leaders as monkeys and cows, with which she was seeking to critique a proposed law that would restrict women’s access to birth control.
The 29-year-old artist was arrested in August last year, and remained imprisoned until November. She was then arrested again in January this year, after posting a video online in which she alleged that guards had beaten her.
Three weeks after she was rearrested, Farghadani went on a hunger strike to protest poor prison conditions, and she suffered a heart attack in February as a result.
Farghadani was tried in May at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court for a series of crimes, including “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “spreading propaganda against the system.”
Before her incarceration in January, Farghadani responded to the charges via an open letter to Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei. “What you call an ‘insult to representatives of the parliament by means of cartoons,’ I consider to be an artistic expression of the home of our nation (parliament), which our nation does not deserve!,” she wrote.
Amnesty International, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, and the Cartoonists Rights Network International, claim the longest Farghadani can legally be imprisoned is seven years and six months, as opposed to the 12 years and nine months prison sentence Farghadani has received.
“No one should be in jail for their art or peaceful activism,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director, said. “Atena Farghadani has effectively been punished for her cartoons with a sentence that is itself a gross caricature of justice.”
The family of Farghadani, who have received death threats from the moment she was first arrested, have declared that her legal team is currently planning an appeal.
According to the Daily Mail, Abolghassem Salavati, the judge that tried Farghadani and who made his name in the aftermath of the crushed street protests of 2009, is known as “Iran’s hanging judge” or “the judge of death” for giving draconian sentences to journalists, artists, bloggers, and political activists.
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