Cartoonist Atena Farghadani Freed from Prison with Four Years Probation

'She has to keep a low profile,' an Amnesty representative said.

Atena Farghadani. Courtesy of YouTube.
Atena Farghadani. Courtesy of YouTube.

Atena Farghadani. Courtesy of YouTube.

Cartoonist and activist Atena Farghadani was ordered to serve 12 years and nine months for drawing a satirical cartoon of Iran’s supreme leader in 2015, and later faced separate “indecency charges” for shaking her lawyer’s hand. On Tuesday, May 2, Farghadani walked out of prison after serving a reduced sentence of 18 months.

However, the release comes with a fairly serious proviso. Raha Bahreini, Amnesty International’s Iran researcher, told artnet News in a phone conversation that Farghadani is on probation. “For the next four years she has to keep a low profile or the authorities may at any time convict her of another offense,” Bahreini said.

Atena Farghadani’s cartoon. Courtesy of Facebook and Voice Project.

Bahreini stated that Amnesty International’s top priority in Farghadani’s case is to convince Iranian officials to drop her conviction altogether, adding that “[Farghadani] shouldn’t have been in prison in the first place, let alone spend 18 months in prison that criminalized her freedom of expression.”

According to the Art Newspaper, Farghadani’s run-ins with state officials date back to a 2014 exhibition of her politically-outspoken work titled “Birds of Earth,” which included material dedicated to protesters killed during a 2009 presidential election in Iran. Though Farghadani was released after two months, the items from that show were reportedly confiscated and held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Whether Farghadani will continue her artistic practice has not yet been determined. “We haven’t been able to talk to her and her family to find out about her plans,” Bahreini said. “However, we are hopeful that Iranian authorities will stop harassing her and her work. She should be granted safety for expressing her political views freely.”

Needless to say, Amnesty International is taking advantage of Farghadani’s provisional release to cast a light on other activists who are currently detained, including Atena Daemi, who faces a 14-year prison sentence on similar charges.

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