Shaking hands with your lawyer is not a crime, rules an Iranian judge

A female prisoner at Tehran’s Evin Prison.
A female prisoner at Tehran’s Evin Prison.
Image: AP/Vahid Salemi
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Atena Farghadani is currently serving 12 years and nine months in prison in Iran for her satirical cartoons. Until last week, she was also facing extra time as punishment for shaking her lawyer’s hand.

Last year, the young Iranian cartoonist was arrested for illustrations she posted on Facebook, including one that depicts government officials as monkeys and goats. After a trial in May that reportedly lasted less than half a day, Farghadani was found guilty of, among other charges, “gathering and colluding against national security,” “insulting the President,” and “insulting the Supreme Leader.”

In June, her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, visited her in prison. After shaking hands, they were both arrested for an “illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery.” Amnesty International reported that the cartoonist was forced to undergo a virginity and pregnancy test as a result.

But a judge found the two not guilty; a written statement was sent to Moghimi last week (Jan. 16) after a closed-court trial in October, reports the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for Farghadani’s release.