Iranian artist and cartoonist Aten Farghadani will be released from prison on 11 May 2016, according to her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi, after an appeals court reduced her original 12-year-and-nine-month sentence down to 18 months, reported IranWire on 25 April 2016.
“Miss Farghadani has been acquitted of the charges of ‘gathering and colluding with counter-revolutionary elements’ and ‘acting against national security.’ The three-year prison sentence for ‘Insulting the Supreme Leader’ has been replaced by a four-year suspended sentence,” Moghimi said in a statement. “Moreover, she has received a fine for ‘insulting members of parliament and the president’ and ‘insulting prison guards.’ She has been sentenced to 18 months in prison on the charge of ‘propaganda against the regime.”
Farghadani was first arrested on 23 August 2014 on a variety of charges, including for her satirical cartoon criticising members of parliament who were discussing a bill that would restrict access to contraception and family planning services. In the cartoon, Farghadani depicted the politicians as animals in suits.
She was released on bail on 6 November 2014 and rearrested on 10 January 2015, possibly as a reprisal for posting a video after her release describing how she was beaten and mistreated during her stay. In June 2015 she was sentenced to 12 years and nine months for the cartoon.
Authorities admit to forced tests
Iranian authorities admitted in the newly published UN Human Rights Council report on Iran that they forcibly carried out “virginity and pregnancy tests” to “respond to allegations of sexual assault against her on some websites”, reported Cartoonists Rights on 24 April 2016. Farghadani continues to contend that the tests were done in response to the handshake charge.
In September 2015 news had emerged through a leaked note from prison that Farghadani was forced to take the tests and that new charges were possibly going to be brought for “indecent conduct” and “illegitimate relations” after shaking hands with her lawyer.
Other cartoonist freed
Another Iranian cartoonist, Hadi Heidari, was recently freed on 26 April 2016, reported Global Voices on 27 April 2016. Heidari was arrested in November 2015 soon after he posted a cartoon on social media in solidarity with France after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
According to Cartoonists Rights, Heidari was arrested in 2015 to serve out the remainder of a one-year sentence he was served in 2013 when he was arrested for a cartoon critical of Iran’s leadership. The cartoonist had served one month in jail at the time, but was released and had his sentence suspended.
At the time, Heidari was sentenced on several charges, including “negatively portraying the situation for women, freedom of speech, wealth of society”, supporting the Green Movement, and “insulting the high ranking officials of the regime” and “revolutionary organisations”.
Heidari had been arrested previously for his works on charges of “collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state”, in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
» Global Voices – 27 April 2016:
Imprisoned Iranian cartoonist Hadi Heidari goes free
» IranWire – 25 April 2016:
Atena Farghadani’s sentence reduced from 12 years to 18 months
» Cartoonists Rights – 25 April 2016:
Iranian artist/activist Atena Farghadani will be free in May – lawyer
» Cartoonists Rights – 24 April 2016:
Iran admits to subjecting artist/activist Atena Farghadani to procedures designated by the UN as a violation against women
» Cartoonists Rights – 9 January 2016:
Some insight into Iranian cartoonist Hadi Heidari’s charges
» Cartoonists Rights – 17 November 2015:
Cartoonist Hadi Heidari jailed in Iran
» Artsfreedom.org – 30 November 2015:
Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist forces to take ‘virginity test’
» Artsfreedom.org – 18 September 2015:
Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist possibly prosecuted over handshake
» Artsfreedom.org – 16 June 2015:
Iran: Cartoonist convicted several years in prison for her art