Three activists jailed since August 14 in Iran have said that they have refused to sign a pledge not to sue the country’s Supreme Leader in order to be freed.

Attorneys Mostafa Nili and Arash Kaykhosravi, along with activist Mehdi Mahmoudian had announced their intention in August to sue Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for having banned the purchase of American and British Covid vaccines in January. They also accused top officials of gross mismanagement of the covid pandemic. Authorities immediately arrested them, and they have spent nearly two months in prison.

In a letter sent to an Islamic Republic civil rights watchdog, they said that authorities asked them to sign a pledge not to sue Khamenei, but they refused, and their detention continued.

With a fifth wave of the pandemic starting in July, tens of thousands of more Iranians have perished with public sentiment turning against Khamenei for having banned the importation of Western vaccines, setting back Iran’s vaccination program.

The three detainees also said they had intended to sue officials for diverting millions of dollars to organizations with no medical expertise that promised to produce home-grown vaccines.

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