Issa Saharkhiz

The son of jailed journalist Issa Saharkhiz has spoken out publicly against his father’s treatment by the judiciary and aimed a warning directly at Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Mehdi Saharkhiz’s statements to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran come three days after his father’s sentence was increased by two years.

“I want to personally tell Mr. Khamenei that he should learn from the fate of [ousted Egyptian president] Hosni Mubarak… Iranian statesmen will also reap what their actions have sown, like Saddam, Ghaddafi and Hosni Mubarak. I wish to tell them to beware their fates in this world and remember that they will not always be in power."

Issa Saharkhiz, who was the head of domestic press in the Ministry of Culture and Guidance during the reformist administration of President Mohammad Khatami, was arrested after the controversial 2009 presidential elections

He was sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting the leader” and “propaganda activities against the regime.” He was also sentenced to a five-year ban from political and media activities and a one-year ban from travelling abroad. On August 5, after he’d served two years of his three-year sentence, another two years was added because of his previous media activities. He remains in Rejaishahr Prison in Karaj and has been given no furloughs since his arrest.

His son Mehdi Saharkhiz added: “In the early days of my father’s arrest, they gave him something similar to a letter of recantation to sign, but my father told them that he believed in every word he has said and he would not sign any recantation letters." He described his father’s beefed-up jail term as a “mark of the leader’s personal vendetta.”

Recently, Issa Saharkhiz wrote a letter to Ahmad Shaheed, the UN Human Rights Investigator for Iran, describing the conditions in Iranian prisons as similar to the Russian Gulags of the Stalin era. He added that regular prisoners were no better off than political prisoners.