Iranian political cartoonist Hadi Heidari was taken into custody by government agents at his newspaper, Shahrvand, on November 16. The arrest was made shortly after Heidari posted a cartoon of solidarity with Paris following terrorist attacks there. The arresting agents were reportedly members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp.
Heidari’s lawyer told Reuters news agency that the artist has been taken to Tehran’s Evin prison to serve the balance of a suspended prison sentence imposed for cartoons critical of his government. “He was convicted two years ago for his cartoons and was sentenced to one year in jail,” lawyer Saleh Nikbakht told Reuters. Heidari, his lawyer said, has served a month of that one-year sentence.
Over the last 20 years Hadi Heidari has cartooned for a variety of Iran’s pro-reform newspapers. In 2009, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, he spent 17 days in jail for “collusion against national security.” In 2010 he was jailed for two months for “propaganda against the state.” In 2012 Heidari’s newspaper at the time, Shargh, was banned and Heidari taken to court after a cartoon critical of Iran’s leadership was published.
In recent weeks a number of Iranian journalists, artists and rights advocates have been jailed on charges of being Western “infiltrators.” More than 20 users of the social-media app Telegram were arrested and charged by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of “insulting Iranian officials” and “satire” in the last week.
Committee to Protect Journalists regional coordinator Sherif Mansour has said, “Iran’s jails are already packed with journalists who are facing spurious charges for the simple act of voicing criticism or independent views.”
CRNI Director Robert “Bro” Russell: “Hadi has been and will continue to be a fine and responsible cartoonist and social commentator. We followed his troubles with the authorities a number of years ago when he responded with calm and patience. We hope he will be released soon, with a minimum of damage . . . to the credibility of the Revolutionary Guards.”
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