Iranian activist Sepideh Qolian

Iranian Activist Sentenced To 15 Months After Unmasking Interrogator

Saturday, 09/02/2023

Iranian activist and labor journalist Sepideh Qolian, who was jailed before, has received a 15-month prison sentence due to a complaint by pro-regime reporter.

Qolian (Gholian) gained prominence for her journalistic coverage of prolonged labor strikes at the Haft-Tappeh sugar factory during 2017-2018. Her advocacy on behalf of workers' demands resulted in her arrest and subsequent imprisonment.

In 2019, while detained at Qarchak Prison, Qolian witnessed her own confessions being broadcast on state television. She identified the TV presenter as Ameneh Sadat Zabihpour, known as a mouthpiece for the Iranian regime. She was also a prison interrogator referred to as Ms. Askari during her interrogations. The case was publicized by Qolian which led to Zabihpour filing a lawsuit against her.

Interrogator and state TV "reporter" Ameneh Sadat Zabihpour

The latest court session pertaining to this case took place on August 22. Notably, this session was conducted in secret due to Qolian's refusal to wear the mandatory hijab.

Mehdi Qolian, Sepideh's brother and a civil activist himself, documented the court proceedings on his Instagram account. He reported that Zabihpour repeatedly objected to Sepideh's presence in court without wearing a headscarf. In response, the court judge issued a "criminal offense" against Sepideh for this reason.

Throughout the court session, Zabihpour, who combines the roles of an interrogator and a reporter, persistently threatened Qolian with charges such as "spying" and "sedition" from the moment she entered the courtroom.

Qolian's commitment to activism remained unwavering even after she completed a four-year prison term and was released in March. Shortly after her release, she was re-arrested for publicly chanting against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei while not wearing a hijab. This led to an additional two-year prison sentence.

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