Court in Iran Sentences Prominent Rapper to Death, His Lawyer Says

A dissident rapper has been sentenced to death in Iran after releasing music in support of antigovernment demonstrations that rocked the country in 2022, according to his lawyer, in a case that has prompted global condemnation.

The rapper, Toomaj Salehi, 33, was one of the most prominent voices among those arrested over nationwide protests against Iran’s clerical rulers after the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, 22. Human rights organizations have been calling for Mr. Salehi’s release, saying that he has been tortured in prison and warning that he could face execution.

Amir Raesian, Mr. Salehi’s lawyer, told the Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh in an article published on Wednesday that a court in the central city of Isfahan had sentenced Mr. Salehi to death and that his client planned to appeal.

The office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran condemned the sentence, calling it another example of “the regime’s brutal abuse of its own citizens, disregard for human rights, and fear of the democratic change the Iranian people seek.”

Mr. Salehi was initially arrested in October 2022 for releasing music criticizing the government and backing the demonstrations ignited by the death of Ms. Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police. He also posted videos on his Instagram account encouraging his followers to protest.

The Iranian authorities charged him that November with “spreading corruption on earth,” an offense that can carry the death penalty. U.N. experts said the court proceedings were held behind closed doors without Mr. Salehi’s lawyer present and expressed alarm about reports the artist had been tortured, citing reports of his broken nose and several broken fingers.

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