Iran: Tortured dissident rapper risks execution

Dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi faces execution after an Esfahan Revolutionary Court sentenced him to death in April 2024. His sentencing relates solely to his involvement in the “Woman Life Freedom” uprising and his critical social media posts about Iranian authorities. His trial was grossly unfair, and authorities ignored his complaints of torture, which included electric shocks, death threats, and repeated beatings that caused bone fractures and vision impairment in one eye.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Halt any plans to execute Toomaj Salehi, quash his conviction and death sentence, and release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his human rights;
  • Pending his release, provide him with adequate healthcare and regular visits with his family and lawyers;
  • Protect him from further torture and other ill-treatment;
  • Order an independent, effective and impartial investigation into his torture allegations, bringing anyone suspected of criminal responsibility to justice in fair trials;
  • Grant independent observers access to protest-related capital trials and immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view of abolishing the death penalty.

Write to:

Head of judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei

c/o Embassy of Iran to the European Union,

Avenue Franklin Roosevelt No. 15,

1050 Bruxelles,


Salutation: Dear Mr. Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei,

Violation of presumption of innocence

On the day of Toomaj Salehi’s arrest, October 30, 2022, the prosecutor of Esfahan, Mohammad Mousavian, publicly accused him of playing a “key role in instigating, inciting, and encouraging riots,” violating his right to the presumption of innocence.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and other state media outlets further violated his rights by broadcasting propaganda videos. These videos accused Salehi of “inciting sedition and street riots” and showed his arrest and forced “confessions” obtained without legal representation and under torture.

Flawed investigation and indictment

On November 27, 2022, authorities announced multiple charges against Salehi. His lawyer, Amir Raesian, objected to these charges, citing flaws in the criminal investigation. The Revolutionary Court accepted these objections and returned the case to the prosecution to correct the deficiencies, but the charges were not amended.

Unfair trials and sentencing

Salehi’s trial occurred on July 2, 2023, at Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Esfahan. He had only 30 minutes to meet with his lawyers before the trial. On July 10, 2023, the court convicted him on six charges, acquitted him of two, and sentenced him to 18 years and nine months in prison.

The charges included “corruption on earth” under Article 286 of the Islamic Penal Code, “spreading lies to disturb public opinion,” “spreading propaganda against the system,” “disturbing public order,” and others. He also received a two-year travel ban, a ban on music-related activities, and mandatory life skills classes.

Retrial and new charges

In November 2023, Branch 39 of the Supreme Court overturned the Revolutionary Court ruling and sent the case back for retrial. Salehi was released on bail on November 18, 2023. After publishing a video on November 26, 2023, detailing his torture, he was re-arrested on November 30, 2023, for “spreading lies.”

In March 2024, a criminal court in Esfahan sentenced him to one year in prison related to this case. The Revolutionary Court eventually sentenced him to death for “corruption on earth” in April 2024, following new indictments including “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “complicity in armed rebellion against the state.”

Please take action as soon as possible until July 11, 2024! The UA will be duly updated should there be the need for further action.