Back to Current Prisoner News

Mehran Raouf

This letter from political prisoner Mehran Raouf was composed and communicated in the harsh conditions of Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. It was first released on Farsi social media on April 10, and then posted on Burn theCage/Free the Birds Instagram the next day. Excerpts have appeared in news websites (such as in Farsi) and other social media. Given the conditions under which the letter was composed, some passages were a bit rough in the Farsi original so minor edits were made in the English translation for clarification. This translation from Farsi and any text in brackets are by volunteers with the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now. Read the Farsi version on our Farsi Resources page.

After the [Islamic Republic’s] announcement that issued a general amnesty, we’ve learned about their related criteria that make prisoners with dual citizenship ineligible for amnesty. Prisoners who are excluded must continue to serve the remainder of their unfair sentences. For instance, my seven and half year sentence could be reduced to two and half years; and after serving one third of my sentence, [my release] is subject to the discretion of the [judicial] bureaucracy made up of intelligence agents, the judge and the prosecutor.

Acting as though they live in a bygone era, the authorities of the judicial system show not even one bit of independence, saying that their hands are tied and that they just follow the rules. In their view, carrying out the law is subject to the interpretations and whims of those in power. For example, they consider a simple political activity — the publication of a book, the propagation and promotion of an ideal, a goal and a dream — to be counter to current law, and  crimes that violate [national] security.

They detain the accused in a rude and arrogant manner. They treat the accused as they would a murderer or armed robber. They barge into people's homes, overturn and break things, and occupy the accused’s living quarters for days. The accused is taken to a special solitary confinement cell in a special detention center, where the prisoner is harassed and tormented. Some wards, such as Ward 2A in Evin Prison, are run by the military division of the Revolutionary Guards. Ward 209 at the same prison belongs to the Intelligence Ministry. The accused is blindfolded, moved from place to place, and shoved against the wall, or taken to a small room with the interrogators behind tinted glass who cannot be seen by the accused — where murderers, rapists and those charged with espionage are taken.

According to [Iran’s] law, the accused cannot be held in temporary detention for longer than 48 hours, and must be released until the court date once bail has been posted. But the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence detained me for eight months without furlough. During that time, I was not allowed to see my lawyer. For months, my family and relatives were kept completely in the dark about my condition and where I was being held. During this entire time, I was denied access to telephone calls. All of this shows just how they trample over their own half-baked and oppressive laws.


Over the past several decades, [for people] of many countries, emigration to other countries has become an increasingly common trend. Like people from other countries, many Iranian nationals migrate to pursue education or to find jobs. Because being a resident of another country doesn't provide access to all the rights accorded to a native-born citizen, many people from other countries decide to become citizens of the second country, which is allowed by international law. The Iranian regime wants to exclude itself from such universal [practice], and instead use its own Islamic Law to imprison Iranian [dual] nationals, counter to the international laws recognizing dual citizenship.

Many people, just like me, with dual citizenship, may not even want to live in another country, and may decide to remain and live in Iran. Some members of my family live in the US and in France. Many Iranian nationals residing outside of Iran hold fast to their Iranian identity. But obtaining travel visas to many countries is very difficult and time-consuming with an Iranian passport. So people seek citizenship in [a different] country to be able to travel with a reputable passport (which often can make getting a travel visa unnecessary).

Despite all that, Islamic Republic authorities treat dual citizens in a way that, suddenly for absurd reasons, denies dual citizens their civil rights. They make it very difficult for them to receive a furlough or conditional release-time. And, they are also excluded from their general amnesty.

Some countries see dual citizens as valuable bargaining chips in their reciprocal give-and-take deals. This is how Iran's justice system behaves, despite claiming to follow human rights. The Iranian government either tries to get exorbitant sums of money in exchange for dual citizens, as is the cases with Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz or Sam Rajabi, who have been held for many years in Ward 4 [of Evin]. Or, the government tries to exchange dual citizens for Iranian convicts held in European and US prisons. In essence, this results in a kind of forced exile.

On the other hand, depriving prisoners with dual citizenship of their rights is a way the government sends a message to Iranian nationals with dual citizenship in the Diaspora: to expect severe consequences if they engage in political activities, so better not get involved in political activities—and if they do, they should not come back to Iran.

Even as some political prisoners are being deprived of their citizenship rights, many Islamic Republic officials themselves have dual citizenship, including cabinet-level ministers, members of parliament and even some members of the justice ministry staff. According to published statistics, around 650 Islamic Republic officials have dual citizenship.

My name is Mehran Raouf, Iran’s national identification number 7789, born in [the Kurdish city of] Kermanshah, fluent in the Kurdish, English and Persian languages, with a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, and a Master's degree from Polytechnic of Central London [now called the University of Westminster]. I lived in England for 8 years. For a while, I worked as an engineer at Iran Khodro Automobile Manufacturing Co. I also worked at the Mother, a paper and paint production company. I've worked as a translator of books and articles. I've also worked as an English teacher.

I have been imprisoned since 2020 in a very crowded prison . There are 144 prisoners [in the Ward], who were convicted of financial crimes. There are 11-18 people in each cell. On April 14, 2023, one third of my sentence will be completed. After having served one third of my sentence it [should have been] possible to get a conditional release.

I am charged with being a sympathizer of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), because of participating in promotional activities and for translation and publication of certain books and the works of Bob Avakian.

The Communist Party of Iran [MLM] and its website offer a program to solve what ails society — discrimination, inequality, the oppression of women, exploitation, etc. They challenge society’s oppression of working people and its inequalities. They criticize and oppose the capitalist system in general. They critique other ills in society [that flow from capitalism] such as poverty, unemployment, the imperialist wars of aggression, the destruction of the environment, etc. They believe in scientific analysis and scientific methods in education and to solve the running sores of this society.

I'd like to add that my aspiration and goal in life has been to work to serve the people, and putting effort into reaching [them] and introducing [getting to] a better world that is fit for humanity, free from oppression, exploitation and corruption, a society free from environmental pollution, free from disease and futile wars.

As a college student, I had permanent residency status in England, so I applied to also become a permanent citizen of that country. Nonetheless, my home, my domicile and my work have always been in Iran. I have no intention of relocating and living in England, or any other country.

The blatant discrimination and oppression against imprisoned dual citizens, is not something unfamiliar to those of us who have been living under Islamic Republic rule for over 40 years. I, and many political prisoners, women's rights activists, environmental activists and labor activists have been imprisoned and charged solely for having different views and beliefs. We have been charged for protesting against wrong and tyrannical policies and laws.

In solidarity with the widespread uprising by the people, we demand the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

Mehran Raouf
Evin Prison, early April, 2023

Amnesty UK: Prison letter from British national Mehran Raoof highlights need for UK action

Amnesty International has called on the UK government to “redouble its efforts” to secure the release of a British-Iranian national - Mehran Raoof - after he sent a letter from Evin prison in Iran denouncing the Iranian legal system and especially its treatment of people - like him - with dual citizenship.... In August 2021, Raoof - along with German-Iranian national Nahid Taghavi (see below) - was sentenced to ten years and eight months on national security-related charges after a grossly unfair trial. Amnesty considers him a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally...

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said: “This powerful and distressing letter is yet another reminder to the UK government that it needs to redouble its efforts to secure the release of Mehran, Morad Tahbaz and other UK nationals arbitrarily detained overseas.”

Mariam Claren, the daughter of Nahid Taghavi, the German national who was detained together with Mehran and charged, convicted and sentenced on the same case file, said:

“The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has said that Nahid’s detention is arbitrary. Nahid and Mehran should not be in prison and I want to see concerted and coordinated action from the German and UK governments to press for their release. My mother is in poor health and her detention is having a devastating impact on her and our family.”

Read the full press release on