WWF stands in solidarity with jailed Iranian conservationists
Houman Jowkar, Taher Ghadirian, Sepideh Kashani, Niloufar Bayani, Morad Tahbaz, Amirhossein Khaleghi Hamidi, Sam Radjabi and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh are facing espionage-related charges, after being arrested in January 2018. It is understood that the charges are linked to the use of conservation tools such as camera traps, which are alleged to have been used to undermine the national security interests of Iran. A ninth person, Kavous Seyed Emami was also arrested in January, but died while in police custody.
Four of the accused - Houman Jowkar, Taher Ghadirian, Niloufar Bayani and Morad Tahbaz - are charged with “sowing corruption on Earth,” a crime punishable by death. Iranian state media reported that the trial of the eight began on 1 February. It remains ongoing.
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, said:
“We’re deeply concerned by the situation facing our conservation colleagues in Iran. They are highly regarded experts carrying out vital work in the country, including monitoring of the endangered Asiatic cheetah.
“Camera-traps are a standard part of the conservationists’ toolkit, especially when trying to track such rare and elusive animals. They are essential in confirming sightings, informing conservation strategies and ultimately, preventing these creatures from disappearing forever.
“Together with conservation partners around the world, we stand by the innocence of these men and women. We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that they receive a fair and transparent trial that takes into account the practical realities of their work."