‘The lack of news about Saman Naseem’s fate or whereabouts … is cruel and inhuman’ - Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui
Iranian officials’ refusal to provide the family of Saman Naseem - a 22-year-old on death row in the country - with information about his fate and whereabouts has sparked fears that he is at risk of being tortured or secretly executed, said Amnesty International this afternoon.
Naseem, who was arrested at the age of 17, was scheduled to be hanged at dawn today but Iran’s Office for the Implementation of Sentences told Naseem’s family that the execution did not take place this morning.
However, the authorities have refused to tell Naseem’s family where he is currently being held and he has not been transferred back to his prison ward at Oroumieh Central Prison. Naseem had been transferred out of the prison apparently in preparation for execution on Saturday, with prison officials telling the family to collect his belongings.
Naseem was sentenced to death in April 2013 by a criminal court in Mahabad, West Azerbaijan Province, following a grossly unfair trial. He was convicted on charges of “enmity against God” and “corruption on earth” because of his alleged membership of the Kurdish armed opposition group, Party For Free Life of Kurdistan, and for taking part in armed activities against the Revolutionary Guard.
In a letter published by Amnesty, Naseem, has given a harrowing account of torture during early investigations, including how he was kept in a narrow cell - measuring only two metres in length and 50 centimetres in width - and was forced, while blindfold, to put his fingerprints on “confession” papers.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:
“The lack of news about Saman Naseem’s fate or whereabouts with prison officers denying his family any information is cruel and inhuman.
“The authorities in Iran must stop playing games with Saman Naseem’s relatives.
“They must immediately disclose his whereabouts, halt his execution and initiate a thorough judicial review of his case.”