After five years of unfair imprisonment, Iran has released Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall. He was freed on September 23rd as part of an amnesty for 80 political prisoners in Iran.
Thanks to a number of human rights efforts, and to the 12,000 Care2 members who signed this petition, Ghassemi-Shall can soon return to Canada and resume his life that was abruptly interrupted five years.
In May 2008, Ghassemi-Shall traveled to his native Iran to visit his mother. Ghassemi-Shall immigrated to Canada in 1979 following a revolution in his home country, and had made a number of trips to Iran without issue in the past. However, during this visit, officials confiscated Ghassemi-Shall’s personal belongings, including his Canadian passport, under the suspicion that he and his brother Alborz, an Iranian national, were plotting to send an incriminating email to one another against Iran. No such email existed.
At the time of their arrest, the political climate in Iran had escalated due to the upcoming president election in 2009. Both men were subsequently sentenced to solitary confinement for the next 18 months, but Ghassemi-Shall’s brother tragically passed in January 2009 due to untreated stomach cancer. Ghassemi-Shall was then sentenced to death on charges of espionage, despite there being no basis or evidence for these charges. Lawyers who reviewed Ghassemi-Shall’s case attested to this fact, yet legal proceedings remained unfair throughout the sentencing process. Iranian courts later denied an appeal on his death sentence.
For the duration of his imprisonment, Ghassemi-Shall had no knowledge if he would ever return to his family in Canada, including his wife, Antonella Mega. Ghassemi-Shall was only allowed short and infrequent calls to his wife, who lost her job and health as a result of stress caused by her husband’s unjust imprisonment. Despite this, Mega remained steadfast in campaigning for his husband’s return, and this past Monday, she was finally able to announce the news of her husband’s release to the world.
Ghassemi-Shall’s release is an incredible success for human rights around the world, and this would not have been possible with your tremendous support!
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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