asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will ask the Iranian authorities for permission to visit Evin Prison and talk to Mr. Abbas Amir-Entezam, the human rights advocate who was taken into custody on 8 September 1998 and allegedly charged with insulting Assodallah Lajevardi, the murdered former head of the prison. [HL942]
There is no legal basis for a visit of this kind. Mr. Amir-Entezam is an Iranian citizen in an Iranian prison. We are, or course, aware of the case of Mr. Amir-Entezam, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1981 on various charges including espionage. He was placed under house arrest in 1995 and later released on parole, subject to certain conditions. But he was sent back to prison apparentlyfollowing complaints by the family of Assadollah Lajevardi that remarks by Amir-Entezam violated his parole conditions. The case was due to come to court on 16 February; we do not as yet have an account of the proceedings. The Iranian newspaper Khordad of 13 February carried an open letter by Amir-Entezam's wife addressed to the Iranian Bar Association calling on the association to ensure that due process was observed.We have in the past regularly raised the case of Mr. Amir-Entezam and other similar cases with the Iranian authorities. We and our EU partners will continue to raise with the Iranian authorities our concerns over certain areas of their human rights policies, as we did on 18 December 1998 during the latest round of the EU/Iran talks in Vienna. We continue to urge the Iranian authorities to show greater transparency in their judicial proceedings. We believe that by doing so, there would be greater trust in their judicial system.