Iran Sentences Rapper to Death

Toomaj Salehi supported protests in 2022
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2024 2:23 PM CDT

A rapper who supported protests in Iran after the death in custody of a young woman arrested for not wearing a hijab has been sentenced to death. Reuters reports that the media department of Iran's judiciary has confirmed that Toomaj Salehi received the sentence on charges including "corruption on earth." The 32-year-old was arrested in 2022 after making public statements supporting the protests, reports the BBC. He was sentenced to six years in prison last year and was briefly released on bail, but was arrested again after he revealed that he was tortured and placed in solitary confinement for 252 days, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

His lawyer, Amir Raisian, said that in an "unprecedented" move, a court in Isfahan had refused to enforce a Supreme Court ruling in the case and "sentenced Salehi to the harshest punishment." The judiciary's media department said Salehi has 20 days to appeal to the top court and he could get a sentence reduction due to his "expression of remorse and cooperation with authorities."

The BBC notes that when protests broke out in 2022, Salehi was already known for his outspoken opposition to authorities and released his songs on social media because he was banned from performing in concerts. In a statement, human rights experts at the OHCHR said they were worried by the sentence and reports of a wider "criminalization of the legitimate exercise of artistic expression through the imposition of a range of dubious charges." "We are alarmed by the imposition of the death sentence and the alleged ill-treatment of Mr. Salehi which appears to be related solely to the exercise of his right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity," they said. (More Iran stories.)

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