Iran frees rights activist on bail: report

Iranian human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari in Tehran, in an undated photo. REUTERS/Stringer

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran released on bail a female activist who was jailed last year on various charges including waging war against God, the Arman newspaper reported on Monday.

Shiva Nazar Ahari was arrested in December 2009 when traveling to Iran’s holy Shi’ite city of Qom to attend the funeral ceremony of top dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, pro-reform Sahamnews website reported.

“She was released on a $500,000 bail on Sunday,” the daily said.

Under Iran’s Islamic Sharia law, the crime of waging war against God, known as “moharebe,” is punishable by death.

Her lawyer Mohammad Sharifi said Nazar Ahari was charged for having ties to the Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (MKO), an exiled opposition group that is also listed as a terrorist group by the United States.

“Nazar Ahari has rejected having any links with the group,” said the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR), of which she is a member.

Iranian opposition website Kaleme said on Sunday Nazar Ahari had spent more than 100 days in solitary confinement since her arrest. Human-rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists had called for Nazar Ahari’s release.

Nazar Ahari was also arrested shortly after Iran’s disputed June 2009 presidential vote, which the opposition says was rigged to secure hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, a claim the authorities deny.

She was released after spending three months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where dozens of moderate activists and journalists are still being held since the vote.