Faraj Sarkoohi is alive but in poor health and facing at least a one-year jail term

Sunday, September 14, 1997

Faraj Sarkoohi is alive but in poor health and facing at least a one-year jail term

(Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists, 22 September 1997)

On 18 September 1997, Faraj Sarkoohi, an editor detained in Iran since January 1997, was sentenced, in camera, to twelve months' imprisonment. The sentence runs from 27 January 1997 to 27 January 1998. Many observers had feared that Iranian authorities would kill Sarkoohi. He was apparently convicted of slandering Iran for writing an open letter, published internationally, which revealed that he was secretly detained and abused by Iranian authorities between 3 November and December 1996. Sarkoohi's life may still be in danger and he may face other charges, including one from an alleged attempt to leave Iran illegally.

According to an open letter from Farideh Zebardsjad, the wife of Faraj Sarkoohi, members of Sarkoohi's family were allowed to visit him in prison in early September 1997. In this letter, Zebardsjad describes the family's reaction to seeing Sarkoohi: "After a short wait in an isolated room, the eight assembled members of the family see a figure emerge from the gloom. All of them wonder silently who this thin, white-haired, bearded old man can be? When will Faraj be brought in? What kind of a game is this? Are they amusing themselves at our expense? Who's been brought to the wrong visiting room -- us or this old man? But the closer he comes and the more they stare at him, the more the members of the family begin to realise that the person in front of them is what is left of the Faraj they once knew. 'He's just a stick -- he looks like his father did just before he died,' murmurs Faraj's mother. The white-haired man sits down on a chair behind the glass screen that separates them. He picks up the phone, but before anyone has time to say anything tears start rolling down people's cheeks. One by one, those in the room break down and allow themselves to cry. The letter contains other descriptions of the family meeting and a copy can be obtained from the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN international.

Prepared with files from the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX),ARTICLE 19 and WiPC.

Further Information

* Click here to access extensive background material on Faraj Sarkoohi prepared by the CCPJ in August 1997.

* Click here to access a list of alerts distributed by IFEX which provide the most current information available on Faraj Sarkoohi.

© The Canadian Committee to Protect Journalists