World

Iranian rapper to be jailed for 6 years, avoiding death sentence, lawyer says

Well-known Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who supported the protest movement that sprang up in Iran last year, has avoided a death sentence and has been jailed for six years and three months, his lawyer told Monday's edition of the daily newspaper Shargh.

Toomaj Salehi had expressed solidarity with protesters denouncing death of Mahsa Amini in police custody

A man with dark hair and facial hair, wearing jeans, a black T-shirt and a silver necklace, poses for a portrait under an underpass.
Prominent Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi is seen in an undisclosed location in Iran in an undated image. Iranian authorities have convicted Salehi of "corruption on earth". (Submitted by Negin Niknaam)

Well-known Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who supported the protest movement that sprang up in Iran last year, has avoided a death sentence and has been jailed for six years and three months, his lawyer told Monday's edition of the daily newspaper Shargh.

Salehi had expressed support online and in his songs for a wave of nationwide protest triggered by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for wearing "inappropriate attire."

Salehi was convicted of "corruption on earth," which covers a broad range of offences including those related to Islamic morality, and can carry the death sentence.

His lawyer, Rosa Etemad Ansari, was quoted as saying Salehi had been acquitted of insulting the Supreme Leader and co-operation with hostile governments, and had been moved out of solitary confinement into the general section of his prison.

The 33-year-old rapper, who was arrested last October, had criticized Iran's government in songs and music videos that were widely circulated online.

WATCH | Toomaj Salehi spoke with CBC News last year: 

Videos coming out of Iran a 'small picture' of what’s happening, says Toomaj

2 years ago
Duration 2:04
Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi talks to CBC News about what’s happening in his country.

A month after his arrest, state media released a video showing a blindfolded Salehi as he renounced previous comments critical of the authorities.

Following the protests, authorities launched a heavy crackdown, in which over 500 people were killed and nearly 20,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that closely monitored the unrest. Authorities have said many of those detained were released or given reduced sentences.

WATCH | A social campaign was launched on behalf of the jailed Iranian rapper: 

Social campaign launched on behalf of jailed Iranian rapper Toomaj

1 year ago
Duration 1:28
Supporters of jailed dissident Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi have launched this campaign on social media to bring attention to his case, saying he’s at risk of execution.

The protests largely died down earlier this year, but there are still widespread signs of discontent.

Iran has executed a total of seven people in connection with the protests, accusing them of attacking security forces. They were convicted in secretive courts where rights groups say they were denied the right to defend themselves. Salehi's supporters had feared that he too could face the death penalty.

With files from The Associated Press