Amnesty International, 5 March
Wildlife conservationists in Iran who have been accused of espionage after using cameras to track endangered species could face the death penalty or more than a decade in prison, said Amnesty International, ahead of a verdict in their case in the coming days.
The eight scientists, who are linked to the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, were arrested at the end of January 2018. They had been conducting research into Iran’s endangered animals, including the Asiatic cheetah and Persian leopard. There is evidence that they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment including through prolonged solitary confinement in order to extract forced “confessions”.
“Protecting endangered wildlife is not a crime. These conservationists are scientists who were carrying out legitimate research. It is absurd that they have been prosecuted without any evidence and are being treated as criminals,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director at Amnesty International.
“Iran’s authorities should release them immediately and unconditionally and drop the outrageous espionage-related charges against them.”