Iranian poets Mehdi Mousavi and Fatemeh Ekhtesari, who were sentenced to heavy jail terms and flogging by the Islamic Republic government, have confirmed to Radio Zamaneh that they have left Iran.

Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi

Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi

Yesterday, the IRGC-linked Fars News Agency reported that Mousavi and Ekhtesari had fled the country. The two had been arrested earlier and were sentenced for charges of “blasphemy, publishing pornographic images on the Internet and kissing and shaking hands with strangers”. Both were recently released on bail to await the appeal court’s decision on their sentencing.

Mousavi has told Zamaneh he would return to Iran if the appeal court were to rescind the sentence.

The Fars News Agency has referred to Ekhtesari and Mousavi as the “domestic collaborators” of the “apostate Shahin Najafi”. Najafi is an Iranian singer based outside Iran whose controversial songs have offended a number of Islamic Republic figures.

Ekhtesari has been quoted as saying that while their poetry has been used by Najafi in some of his songs, they were not among his controversial songs.

Mousavi told Radio Zamaneh that he is not happy to leave his country and hopes he can feel safe enough to return.