2 Iranian poets, facing lashings and prison, escape country

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Two Iranian poets who face lashings and prison sentences have fled Iran, one of the writers said Monday, a rare escape for local artists and activists ensnared in an ongoing crackdown on expression in the country.

See Full Article

Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Mousavi's freedom came as world powers lifted sanctions on Iran over its contested nuclear program and as the country separately freed four Iranian-Americans in exchange for seven Iranians held in the U.S.

The poets' escape is a reminder that despite the growing detente with the West, hard-liners still exert control over much of life in the Islamic Republic.

Ekhtesari told The Associated Press on Monday that both she and Mousavi escaped from Iran in recent days and made it to another country. She declined to elaborate out of continuing concerns about their safety.

Ekhtesari faced an 11 1/2-year prison sentence, while Mousavi faced nine years on charges ranging from propaganda against the state to "insulting poetsanctities." Each was sentenced to 99 lashings. They likely were targeted because their work is known abroad. Both are self-described "postmodern Ghazal" poets who seek to revive the traditional Persian love sonnet by applying it to contemporary political and social issues.

Hard-liners in the police, judiciary and military view any rapprochement with the West as a threat to the Islamic Republic and a sign of moral decay. Rights groups and analysts say those targeted in the ongoing crackdown on expression in Iran also serve as pawns in the hard-liners' struggle with moderates ahead of February's parliamentary elections.

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi faces six years in prison and up to 223 lashes over his films, which authorities also charged with "insulting sanctities." In June, a court handed cartoonist Atena Farghadani a 12-year, nine-month sentence.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Climate protests to mark Trump's 100 days in office

    Canada News CBC News
    For the second time in a month, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to turn out around the world Saturday to voice concern over climate change in a mass demonstration marking the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency. Source
  • Wikipedia blocked in Turkey

    World News CBC News
    Access to Wikipedia has been blocked in Turkey because of content presenting the country as supporting terror. Turkey's official news agency, quoting the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, said Saturday the free online encyclopedia was blocked for "becoming an information source acting with groups conducting a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena. Source
  • As Macron hunts rural vote, Le Pen celebrates alliance

    World News CTV News
    USSEAU, France -- French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron hunted Saturday for votes in rural France where his far-right opponent, Marine Le Pen, is making inroads among country folk who feel left behind. Back in Paris, Le Pen announced that if she wins the presidency in the May 7 runoff she would name former rival Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, her new campaign ally, as her prime minister. Source
  • By the numbers: First 100 days of Trump

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- In his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump has produced hundreds of tweets, fired scores of rockets at Syria, signed dozens of executive orders, made one big move on the Supreme Court and signed no major legislation. Source
  • Toronto police seek man accused of following girl into backyard

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto police have released security camera footage of a man accused of following a 13-year-old girl into a backyard earlier this week. In a news release, police said Friday that the girl was walking her dog in a midtown Toronto neighbourhood around 7:15 a.m. Source
  • What Harjit Sajjan really did while serving in Afghanistan

    Canada News CBC News
    Truth being the first casualty of war has taken a decidedly different turn with growing outrage in both the political and military communities about Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan's characterization of himself as the architect of Operation Medusa in Afghanistan. Source
  • Woman, 50 facing charges in elder abuse investigation

    Canada News CTV News
    WARWICK TOWNSHIP, Ont. -- Provincial police say a 50-year-old woman is charged in an elder abuse investigation. They say officers went to a Warwick Township, Ont., home on Thursday to assist health-care workers check on the well-being of a resident. Source
  • B.C. responds to lawsuit over fees to welfare recipients for methadone treatment

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The British Columbia government says it has done nothing wrong by redirecting money from the income-assistance cheques of recovering heroin addicts to pay private methadone-dispensing clinics for treatment. In documents filed in B.C. Source
  • Former Afghan warlord Hekmatyar says he wants peace

    World News CTV News
    KABUL -- A former Afghan warlord who battled U.S. forces after the 2001 invasion and nursed bitter rivalries with other militant factions before signing a peace deal with the Afghan government appeared in public for the first time in more than 20 years on Saturday and called for peace. Source
  • Austria calls for new EU relationship with Turkey

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern says Turkey should not be allowed to join the European Union, with membership talks between the EU and Ankara at a standstill. Kern told reporters in Brussels Saturday that "we have to bring our relations to Turkey into new order. Source