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Iran Frees Teacher Activist After Global Criticism of Arrest


Mohammad Habibi (Family courtesy photo)
Mohammad Habibi (Family courtesy photo)

Iran has released a teachers’ rights advocate whose arrest last month on unspecified charges drew criticism from global and Iranian rights activists.

The Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported Mohammad Habibi was released from Tehran’s Evin prison on Sunday on a bail of $60,000. It said the family of the 29-year-old teacher and trade unionist “expressed joy at his freedom.”

Habibi is a board member of the Tehran branch of the Iranian Teachers' Trade Association (ITTA).

The Iran Human Rights Monitor group, affiliated with the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), confirmed Habibi's release in a Sunday tweet that included a photo of him standing and smiling in a parking lot.

Days after Habibi’s arrest on March 3, his wife, Khadijeh Pakzamir, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, a sister network of VOA, that plainclothes security agents had detained and pepper-sprayed her husband outside his school in the town of Shahriar in the western part of Tehran province.

She said the agents also brought him to their home and searched it before sending him to prison without specifying any charges.

In her interview with Radio Farda, Pakzamir accused the security agents of unjustified violent behavior and said her husband’s activities always have been peaceful and legal.

Brussels-based group Education International, a global federation of education-sector trade unions, said Iranian authorities had threatened Habibi in the past for his role as a trade union leader. In a statement last month, EI condemned Habibi’s jailing and Iran’s continued detention of other education unionists.

ILNA, a moderate conservative news agency, previously reported that Iranian activists had signed an online petition calling for Habibi to be freed and teachers’ associations had issued statements supporting him.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA’s Persian Service.