The Iranian Judiciary has postponed the trial of eight environmentalists jailed since January 2018 to an unspecified date following the Nowruz holidays (Iranian New Year starting March 21), according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
According to IRNA, Abolghasem Salavati, the presiding judge at Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, has adjourned the case, citing prior commitments to a series of high-profile corruption trials.
The report added that the Tehran prosecutor’s office had charged four of the defendants with “spreading corrupting on earth,” another three with “espionage,” and one with “working with a hostile government.”
In January 2018, agents from of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Intelligence Organization arrested seven members of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF), a non-profit organization, on charges of espionage.
Those arrested included Niloufar Bayani, the manager of the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) and a former adviser to the UN Environment Program; Kavus Seyyed Emami, an Iranian-Canadian sociologist; Hooman Jokar, the director of CACP; Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American businessman; Taher Ghadirian, Amirhossein Khaleghi, and Sam Rajabi.
The IRGC arrested another environmentalist, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, a month later. According to the authorities, Mr. Emami, a sociologist and faculty member at Imam Sadegh University, killed himself at Tehran’s Evin prison a day after his arrest.
According to IRNA, Judge Salavati has so far presided over eight court proceedings during which he has read the 350-page indictment to the defendants. The court has held two hearings for Morad Tahbaz, who is accused of spreading corruption. Meanwhile, the court has again postponed the third hearing for Niloufar Bayani.
Katayoon Rajabi, sister of Sam Rajabi, recently tweeted that the court had canceled two hearings for Ms. Bayani. She also said the court had set a trial date for Taher Ghadirian. According to his mother, Ghadirian suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and requires immediate medical care. Despite his poor health, prison authorities have not allowed a specialist to examine him and also prevented his lawyer from visiting him in jail.
One of the defense attorneys had complained about not being allowed to speak to his client during the trial, but the judge ruled that lawyers had to get written permission before they could talk to their clients in court or visit them in prison. According to Ghadirian’s mother, her son’s lawyer could not see him despite being issued a permit more than a month ago.
[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]