Saleh Nikbakht, the lawyer representing the family of Jina Mahsa Amini, has been sentenced to one year in prison and banned from social media for two years by Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
The court, presided over by Judge Amouzad, convicted Nikbakht of the charge of “propaganda against the state”, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) has learned.
Nikbakht’s lawyer, Ali Rezaei, was informed of the verdict after he appeared in court today.
“Regrettably, the court disregarded my arguments and those of Mr Nikbakht and sentenced him to the maximum sentence for this charge, which is one year in prison, along with an additional supplementary sentence,” Rezaei said.
In the statement, a copy of which was obtained by KHRN, Rezaei noted that: “The court, in its issued verdict, found all nine interviews [of Saleh Nikbakht] submitted by the Ministry of Intelligence as evidence in the case, including the following topics: 1. The assessment of the situation of kolbars in Iran and their killings, 2. The defendant’s legal response to the claim of Afghan migrants drowning, 3. His criticism of the broadcasting of confessions of political (security) defendants by state television and the responsibility of authorities to protect the lives of detainees on Iran International and his interview with BBC Persian on 1. The open letter of lawyers, renowned journalists and political activists in condemning the Turkish military invasion of northern Syria, 2. The examination of the reasons behind the ban on issuing motorcycle licences to women in Iran, which he said lacked legal and religious grounds, 3. The detailed description of the process of the release of the Syrian Kurdish prisoner in Iran, as well as his interview with Radio Farda in which he condemned the Turkish army’s attack on the Kurds in Syria. All these events took place between 2019 and before September 2022. What is surprising is the emphasis placed by the complainant and the issuing court on the defendant’s objection to the forensic report. In accordance with his legal duty, the lawyer had objected to the opinion of the Forensic Medicine Commission as a hypothesis. He argued that a forensic opinion, like any other hypothesis, is not absolute. He had requested that the matter of Mahsa’s death be re-examined by another commission. He suggested that since neither the lawyers nor Mahsa’s family had any medical knowledge, five of the twelve renowned doctors should be nominated by Mahsa’s family to attend the meeting and the commission should explain to them the developments and reasons behind the incident and these doctors could ask questions if there were any. This matter is neither a crime nor the defendant has said anything else. Regrettably, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Revolutionary Court, ignoring the defendant’s legal statements, condemned Mr Nikbakht for these interviews as evidence of charges of engaging in anti-regime propaganda.”
The Branch 2 of the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran arraigned Nikbakht on 11 March on the charge of “propaganda against the state” over his interviews with journalists abroad. He was later released on bail pending trial.
Nikbakht’s trial was held in two sessions on 29 August and 2 October at Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Amouzad.
Nikbakht, a 72-year-old lawyer, has a career spanning more than four decades. He has taken on a wide range of politically and journalistically charged cases, including representing imprisoned political and civil rights activists of Kurdish, Azerbaijani-Turkic and Arab backgrounds.
Nikbakht, who also has a background in journalism, has been persecuted, summoned, banned from leaving the country and detained by the security services both before and after the 1979 revolution.
He has spent around eight years of his life behind bars on political charges. His career is further highlighted by his role in saving the lives of nearly 30 political prisoners sentenced to death during his tenure as a legal representative.
Jina Mahsa Amini was arrested by the morality police on 13 September 2022 on one of Tehran’s streets for wearing her hijab “inappropriately”.
Less than two hours after being taken to the Morality Police building on Vozara Street in Tehran, she was taken to Kasra Hospital in an unconscious state due to the severity of the blows to her head inflicted by the officers.
According to published reports, Amini was brain-dead when she was hospitalised. She died three days later, on 16 September, at Kasra Hospital in Tehran.
Although the Islamic Republic, as usual, announced Amini’s cause of death as “a heart attack caused by an underlying illness”, her family rejected this claim, insisting that their child was perfectly healthy before her arrest.
Several eyewitnesses among the detainees in the same van that took Amini to a detention centre, later confirmed that police officers used violence and beat the young woman severely, fracturing her skull.
According to Amini’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, no judicial action has been taken in this case and the investigation has been conducted without the presence of her family and lawyer.