According to the human rights group Hengaw, Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who had been held in Isfahan prison since last year, was released on bail on Sunday.
Salehi, 33, was arrested for showing support for anti-government protests, following the death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini in September 2022. He had also written songs about the protests.
Why was Toomaj Salehi in prison?
The musician was charged with spreading “lies on the internet” and “propaganda against the state” as well as inciting people to violence and “having formed and managed illegal groups with the aim of disrupting security in cooperation with a government hostile” to Iran.
Iran’s Supreme Court rejected a ruling that sentenced him to six years in prison. The conditions of Salehi’s bail have not been made public, and his case has been sent back to a lower court.
Salehi’s lawyer Amir Raisian told the Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh that upon appeal, the Supreme Court had found “flaws in the initial sentence” and ordered his release.
Iran’s mass protests
An image of him holding a bouquet of flowers was released on his Instagram page.
Salehi has spent 1 year and 21 days in prison, of which 252 days were spent in solitary confinement. “I thought the saddest situation was being alone under the tortures of time, now I understand that being released alone is even more bitter,” he said on his Instagram and X pages.
The anti-government protests following Amini’s death have been the biggest challenge to the government since its establishment in 1979.
The protests that began in late 2022 saw hundreds of people killed, including dozens of security personnel. Thousands have been arrested.
The state has executed seven people in protest-related cases. On Monday, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld a death sentence over the killing of a Revolutionary Guards officer during the protests.