A German lawmaker who serves as the political sponsor of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi has welcomed the release on bail of the dissident artist but warned he is still at risk as all charges against him are still pending.
“While it is certainly a positive development that Toomaj is no longer in prison, it is essential for me to caution against excessive jubilation because the actions of the Iranian regime are unpredictable, lawmaker Ye-One Rhie told VOA. “They might detain him again next week, or they may never arrest him again. It is imperative for everyone to temper their joy and to remain mindful of Toomaj and other prisoners.”
An outspoken rapper, Toomaj Salehi was jailed in connection with anti-government protests that erupted in 2022. He had been sentenced to six years in prison on charges of “corruption on earth.” His lawyer told Iran’s reformist newspaper Shargh that upon appeal, the Supreme Court found “flaws” in the initial sentence and ordered him to be freed on bail.
Like thousands of other mostly young Iranians, Salehi embraced a widespread anti-government protest movement that began last September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police. She was arrested allegedly for violating Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.
In the days before Salehi’s arrest in October 2022, he posted videos of himself on Instagram participating in peaceful street demonstrations and urging others to do the same.
Ye-One Rhie underscored her unwavering support for Toomaj.
“Consider the challenges this man has faced during this time, particularly in the past year. I hold the utmost respect for him,” she said. “I will stand by him in every possible way, maintaining this support until the end, and I am aware that numerous others will persist in providing their support as well.”
Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse.