April 25, 2021
15 years imprisonment, three-years exile, three-year travel ban
Collaboration with anti-revolutionary groups
Conspiring against national security
Propaganda against the regime
Date of Birth
Place of Birth
Shahriar, Tehran Province
Prior to his arrest, Mohammad Nourizad wrote and published three letters to Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the letters, he requested that Khamenei, who he referred to in the letters as “father,” change his policies on the treatment of protesters.
On December 20, 2009, following the publication of these letters, Mohammad Nourizad was arrested on charges of “insulting government officials and propaganda against the state” after appearing in court following a telephone summons. In the lower court’s verdict, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Courts, presided over by Judge Pir Abbasi, sentenced Nourizad to one year imprisonment on the charge of “propaganda against the state and disrespecting the 30 year old institution of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, to two years imprisonment on the charge of “insulting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei”, to 91 days imprisonment on the charge of “insulting Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the [then] Chief Justice of the Iranian Judiciary”, 91 days imprisonment on the charge of “insulting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the [then] President of Iran” and 50 lashes of the whip on the charge of “insulting Seyyed Ahmad Alam al-Huda, the Friday Prayers Leader of Mashhad.”
In mid-March 2010, more than forty Iranian filmmakers and writers wrote open letters calling for the release of Mohammad Nourizad and Jafar Panahi, another detained Iranian director and screenwriter.
On Tuesday, May 18, 2010, Mohammad Nourizad was allowed out of his cell by prison officials on the pretext of giving him a relaxation break. However, five members of the Evin Prison security force subsequently physically assaulted him, beating him around the head. He was beaten so badly that when he was seen by the prison doctor, he was diagnosed with concussion and imparied vision. After this incident with officials from Evin Prison, Nourizad went on a full-scale hunger and water strike.
After his physical assault at the hands of the prison officials, Mohammad Nourizad also wrote a fourth and fifth open letter. Nourizad’s fifth open letter addressed to Ali Khamenei was published on several websites on May 30, 2010. On May 31, 2010, media networks reported that Nourizad’s sentence had been upheld in its entirety by Branch 54 of the Revolutionary Courts, part of the Court of Appeals.
On June 24, 2010, Mohammad Nourizad was released from prison on bail for the amount of 300 million tomans, after serving six months in prison (of which he spent one hundred and ninety days in prison and seventy days in solitary confinement). On August 11, 2010, Nourizad published another open letter on his website, which he referred to as the last letter he would send to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In the letter, Mohammad Nourizad wrote that one of the complaints of the Iranian people that will lead to an uprising is the imminent death of Khamenei.
Following the publication of this letter, Mohammad Nourizad was summoned once again to Evin Prison on August 18, 2010 and received a warning regarding the publication of the letters. Nourizad's thirtieth[?] letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was published on his personal website on January 31, 2011.
Over the past five years, Mohammad Nourizad has staged a number of sit-ins to reclaim his property taken from him by intelligence forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC] and he has as such been repeatedly beaten by IRGC security and intelligence forces. He ended his sit-in in front of the Ministry of Intelligence after having some of his demands granted and his confiscated property returned to him. On Monday August 4, 2014, Nourizad protested in front of the former Embassy of the United States on Taleghani Street wearing a shroud with the image of Gohar Eshghi, an activist who gained prominence after her son, Sattar Beheshti, a blogger and manual labourer, was killed during a torture session in Evin Prison, and a red flag, demanding the return of the rest of his confiscated property from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Mohammad Nourizad is a prominent figure at most popular protest rallies. He has attended a number of rallies alongside other prominent reformist and opposition figures such as; Mohammad Maleki, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Narges Mohammadi and Gohar Eshghi. Nourizad has often been targeted and persecuted for attending these rallies. At one such protest rally in October 2014, Nourizad announced that he would take part in a demonstration held at Akhtar Alley, the street on which Mir Hossein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard are being kept under house arrest due to their role in the 2009 Green Movement. However, as the demonstration was taking place he was severely beaten by security forces. Mohammad Nourizad took 5 photos of the security forces' attack and sent them to someone, and he was subsequently arrested.
Abazar Nourizad, the son of Mohammad Nourizad, told the Saham News website that his father had been taken to the police station after being beaten and was to be sent to the Prosecutor’s Office of Evin. The next day, October 12, 2014, Mohammad Nourizad published a short post on his Facebook page in which he announced his release from police custody.
On November 27, 2014, the Jaras website reported that Mohammad Nourizad had been involved in a serious collision. Nourizad described the accident in a post on his Facebook page in which he wrote: “At ten o'clock in the morning, I had stopped my car in the traffic jams at Tohid Square. A speeding garbage truck which had its brake cables cut and crashed into my car. My head hit the interior frame of the car and I fainted. Fifteen minutes later, when I regained consciousness the police and emergency services had arrived. The garbage truck had ended up on the street sidewalk after it crashed into my car. There is nothing left of my car. We dragged it to a scrap yard. I can say: I'm still alive. Isn’t that the most important thing?”
On June 11, 2019, Mohammad Nourizad and 13 other civil society activists in Iran, signed a joint statement on the need for Ali Khamenei to resign from his position as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the statement the activists wrote: “It is time for the compassionate people of Iran, activists, and thinkers to put aside their pragmatic tendencies that have led to the destruction of the country's culture, civilization, and wealth to go to the town squares and explicitly demand a fundamental change in the country’s laws. The resignation of the Supreme Leader of Iran, who is unjustly increasing his powers every day, will be at the forefront of this national movement.”
The publication of this letter led to the arrest of all the signatories of this letter, including Mohammad Nourizad, who was arrested in Mashhad on June 13, 2019. After 6 months of temporary detention, Nourizad was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, 3 years in exile, and a 3-year travel ban.
In court, Mohammad Nourizad was convicted of the following charges; “membership in opposition groups with the intention of disrupting the security of the country”, “propaganda activities against the state” and “the establishment and management of a Telegram channel with the intention of disrupting the security of the country.” Nourizad is currently serving his 15 year prison sentence in the Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad.
In May 2020, Mohammad Nourizad slit the artery in wrist in an attempt to commit suicide in protest against the terrible conditions at Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad and in protest against his sentence. However, he was taken to hospital and survived. Mohammad Nourizad is still in prison.
Nourizad’s sentence was confirmed in Branch 35 of the Court of Appeals of Khorasan Razavi Province.
He resorted to attempting suicide several times during his imprisonment because of a lack of medical care and the prison’s refusal to take him to a hospital to treat his heart.
On March 8, 2021, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, Nourizad's lawyer, told Journalism is Not a Crime that the journalist and documentary filmmaker cut his neck and arm with a sharp object in front of his wife in the meeting hall of Evin Prison. The act was in protest over the denial of hospital treatment for heart disease.
In an audio file published on April 22, 2021 on social media, Zeinab Nourizad, daughter of Mohammad Nourizad, announced that her father had been transferred a few days before to Loghman Hospital after being anesthetized in prison. He had been given eight unknown injections, Nourizad did not know why the injections were administered.
After returning to prison, Nourizad asked the director of the prison to transfer him to a forensic doctor for examination of the suspected injections. His request was denied.
Zeinab described her father's condition in the audio file as disturbing, saying, "We are very worried that the injections will have a negative effect. We think they wanted to kill my father with these unspecified injections."