Iran sends a hip-hop artist who rapped about hijab protests back to jail

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran sent a popular rapper back to jail less that two weeks after his release from prison on bail, an Iranian news website reported Thursday.

Mizanonline.ir, an online news outlet affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, said authorities arrested Toomaj Salehi on a new charge of “spreading lies and violation of public opinion.”

Salehi was released from prison in mid-November after spending more than a year in custody on charges that his supporters said were based on the hip-hop artist's music and participation in the protests that broke out in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22. Amini died in the custody of the country’s morality police after being detained for wearing her hijab too loosely.

Earlier this week, Salehi said in a video message that he was tortured after his arrest in October 2022, when state media released a video showing him blindfolded and apologizing for his words, a statement likely made under duress.

A court sentenced Salehi in July to more than six years in prison. A defense lawyer said earlier this month that the rapper's appeal resulted in his release on bail after the Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court.

Nearly 20,000 people were arrested in Tehran's crackdown on the protests, which largely died down earlier this year. Eight of them were executed for allegedly attacking security forces. They were convicted in secretive courts where rights groups say they were denied the right to defend themselves.

 

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