An Iranian doctor and rights activist has been released from Tehran’s infamous Evin prison one week after photographs of his severely emaciated condition emerged on social media.
Farhad Meysami was released from prison on Friday, according to the Iranian pro-reform outlet Shargh Daily. News of his release came as France announced that the French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah had also been released from Evin.
Meysami was jailed in 2018 after voicing his support for women protesting the compulsory hijab law. He was charged with “assembly and collusion to act against national security” and of “propaganda against the regime.” according to a group focused on Iran, Human Rights Activists (HRANA).
Images showing his frail body, protruding bones and shaved head caused outrage on social media when they surfaced last week. Prior to the emergence of the photos a human rights lawyer claiming to represent Meysami said his weight had decreased to 52 kilos (115 lb) and that he had been “beaten due to his resistance” to being transferred to a different prison.
The text of a letter allegedly written by Meysami and provided to CNN by the lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, showed that Meysami had gone on hunger strike to protest the execution of prisoners, to call for the release of several protesters and to demand the end of enforcement of the compulsory hijab law. CNN could not verify the authenticity of the letter.
After the images of Meysami circulated online, state affiliated media last Friday denied the activist was on hunger strike, and said that he was in “good condition.”
The amnesty included some people who had been arrested in recent anti-government protests that have swept the country since last fall, according to HRANA.
Nationwide dissent erupted late last year, as decades of bitterness over the regime’s treatment of women and other issues boiled over after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the country’s morality police.
Authorities have violently repressed the months-long movement, which has posed one of the biggest domestic threats to Iran’s ruling clerical regime in more than a decade.
CNN has reached out to Iran’s government for comment on Meysami’s release.
French-Iranian academic released
For decades, Evin prison in the Iranian capital of Tehran has housed political prisoners and dual nationals whom Iran refuses to officially recognize.
Meysami’s release came as the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that French-Iranian academic, Fariba Adelkhah, had also been also released from Evin.
The ministry said in a statement Friday that “France rejoices at the release this evening of Madame Fariba Adelkhah, researcher at the International Research Centre at Sciences Po who was unjustly detained in Iran in Evin prison.”
It added it was “essential” that Adelkhah be able to recover all of her freedoms “including (being allowed) to return to France if she wishes.”
Adelkhah was arrested in Iran on June 5, 2019, according to the Sciences Po official website, alongside her colleague and fellow researcher, Roland Marchal.
Adelkhah was accused of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s political system” and “collusion to undermine national security.”
While Marchal was released on March 20, 2020, Adelkhah was served a five-year prison sentence on May 16, 2020.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called Adelkhah’s release a “great joy” in a tweet Friday evening.
The director of French university, Sciences Po, Mathias Vicherat also responded in a tweet: “What joy, what relief to learn of the confirmation of the release of our friend, our colleague, Fariba Adelkhah.”
France reiterated its demand for the “immediate release” of all French people arbitrarily detained in Iran, with the foreign minister demanding her Iranian counterpart immediately release seven French “hostages.”
A ministry spokesman said it is “extremely concerned” about the health of French national Benjamin Brière and French-Irish national Bernard Phelan in particular.
“It is evident that this politics of state hostages carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran is reprehensible and cannot but contribute to a profound degradation in our bilateral relations like the relations of Iran with Europe,” the spokesperson said Thursday.