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Iranian Dissident Rapper Sentenced To Death

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Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi, who was among the icons of Iran’s 2022 protests, has been sentenced to death on charge of “spreading corruption on earth.”

A revolutionary court in Isfahan (Esfahan) has issued the verdict, Amir Raisian told SharghDaily on Wednesday. “Spreading corruption on earth,” along with “Moharebeh,” is the highest crime in Islamic Republic’s version of Sharia law and it is punishable by death. 

He had been sentenced to one year imprisonment, two years passport annulment, and participation in a behavioral management course for ‘propaganda against the system’ before the death sentence was announced.

Salehi, initially released on bail on November 18 after enduring 252 days in prison, found himself back in custody just 12 days later. This followed the release of a video in which Salehi detailed the torture he endured during his imprisonment. The rapper, in the video, cited the experiences as the basis for his complaints against prison officials and government-affiliated media.

Salehi’s social media account reported on December 14 that he suffered “severe damage to the eyes and face” during his latest arrest by government forces, contradicting official statements and raising concerns about the adherence to the law during the violent incident in Babol.

Salehi gained fame for his protest songs that tackled social issues and government injustices in Iran. His first arrest in October 2022 was a component of a wider crackdown on political dissidents of the regime, a response to the protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.

In October, Salehi received the 2023 Arts Freedom of Expression Award from Index on Censorship, an organization dedicated to advocating for freedom of expression.