Iran’s judiciary confirms dissident rapper sentenced to death for role in protests

Court says sentence could be commuted; Toomaj Salehi’s lawyer announced verdict Wednesday, 18 months after client jailed over protests in wake of morality police detainee’s killing

File: Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi in the music video for his protest song 'Mouse Hole,' uploaded to Youtube on July 28, 2021. (Screen capture: Youtube/Toomaj Salehi, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
File: Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi in the music video for his protest song 'Mouse Hole,' uploaded to Youtube on July 28, 2021. (Screen capture: Youtube/Toomaj Salehi, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Iran’s judiciary confirmed the death sentence of well-known Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, but added that he is entitled to a sentence reduction, state media reported on Thursday.

Salehi’s lawyer Amir Raisian on Wednesday told Shargh, an Iranian Reformist newspaper, that an Islamic Revolutionary Court had sentenced his client to death for charges linked to Iran’s 2022-2023 unrest.

Salehi, 33, was arrested in October 2022 after making public statements in support of the nationwide protests, which were sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for wearing an “improper” hijab.

On Thursday, the Iranian judiciary’s media department confirmed Salehi’s death sentence based on charges of “corruption on earth,” adding that the verdict entitled the defendant to a sentence reduction due to “his expression of remorse and cooperation with authorities.”

Illustrative: Protesters hold portraits of jailed Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi (C) and Mohsen Shekari (Bottom-R), a protester who was executed in Iran in December 2022, during a rally against the Iranian regime in Lyon, France, January 8, 2023. (Ean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP)

Salehi has 20 days to appeal his sentence with the Supreme Court. If the sentence is upheld, the judiciary’s amnesty commission will review his case and potentially commute his sentence, the judiciary’s media department added.

Iran’s Supreme Court had in July rejected Salehi’s charges of “corruption on earth,” a capital offense under Iran’s Islamic laws. However, the ruling has not been enforced, in what Salehi’s lawyer called “an unprecedented move” by the judiciary.

The hashtag #FreeToomaj has been trending on social media platforms such as X, with users calling for Salehi’s immediate release.

Most Popular
read more: