Dear Mr Raisi,
I am writing to express concern about the arbitrary detention of Azerbaijani Turkic activist Abbas Lesani who is imprisoned following grossly unfair judicial proceedings in both the court of first instance and appeal court. Abbas Lesani was arrested on 15 January 2019 in Tabriz, East Azerbaijan province. The authorities held him incommunicado and subjected him to enforced disappearance for six weeks. On 4 July 2019, he was sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by two years of “internal exile” in Yazd province, hundreds of kilometres from his family. On 26 September 2019, an appeal court increased his sentence for this charge to 10 years. Both verdicts cited speeches, media interviews, and participation in protests as “evidence” of national security activities.
I call on you to release Abbas Lesani, as he has been targeted because of his activism. His continued imprisonment is arbitrary on the grounds that both his initial trial and appeal proceedings were grossly unfair and failed to meet international fair trial standards. His sentence and conviction stemming from the peaceful exercise of his rights should be quashed. Pending his release, ensure that he is provided access to his lawyer and family. I also urge you to ensure an end to state harassment and intimidation of his family.