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Source: RFE/RL

Jan 22, 2024

Iranian Rapper Faces New Charges That Could Carry Death Sentence

Imprisoned Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi has been told he faces new additional charges that put him in jeopardy of facing the death penalty if convicted.

Amir Raisian, Salehi's legal representative, revealed the charges in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on January 21, saying the singer was also accused of "armed and group rebellion against the regime" and "conspiracy to commit security-related offenses.

"Raisian said there was no evidence supporting the charges, and noted that no other individuals are implicated as accomplices in the case and that no weapons were ever found in Salehi's possession.

Under the Islamic Penal Code, individuals found guilty of "armed rebellion against the regime" could face the death penalty.

Raisian also pointed out that while the Supreme Court had previously ruled that a maximum of three charges can be applied in a single case, the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan has issued an indictment with 10 charges against Salehi.

Raisian added that Salehi appeared to qualify for a government amnesty, raising questions about the legitimacy of the renewed charges.

Salehi was initially arrested in November 2022 after a period of being in hiding. His detention immediately sparked significant attention and demands for his release, both domestically and internationally.

He was subsequently sentenced to more than six years in prison but released on November 18 after the Supreme Court, responding to an appeal, found "flaws in the original sentence."

It sent the case back to a lower court for a reexamination and possible retrial.He was temporarily released on bail in November after spending over a year in prison, including 252 days in solitary confinement, but then was rearrested shortly after publicly talking about his alleged torture in prison in a video.

Ye-One Rhie, a German lawmaker and Salehi's political sponsor, criticized the rapper's temporary release as insincere and a diversionary tactic by the Islamic republic to draw attention away from its oppressive regime.

Salehi has gained prominence for lyrics that rail against the corruption, widespread poverty, state executions, and killing of protesters in Iran.

His songs also point to a widening gap between ordinary Iranians and the country's leadership, accusing the authorities of "suffocating" the people without regard for their well-being.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

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