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By Claudia Bennett, Legal and program officer 

There’s no length Iran won’t go to in order to quash dissent. Murder included.

Last week, the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Court of Isfahan sentenced rapper Toomaj Salehi to death over songs that criticized the government.

Salehi’s primary charge was “corruption on earth,” which is punishable by death in Iran.

The ruling goes against an Iranian Supreme Court decision that said the 33-year-old rapper’s case qualified for amnesty.

Salehi’s lawyer said they’d be appealing the ruling. They have 20 days to do so.

Salehi was first arrested and arbitrarily detained in October 2023, after he released a song supporting the protesters of the Women, Life, Freedom movement following Mahsa Amini’s September 2022 murder at the hands of Iran’s morality police.

His lyrics were simply: “Someone’s crime was that her hair was flowing in the wind. Someone’s crime was that he or she was brave and [was] outspoken.”

Roughly a year later, he was released on bail, after being sentenced to six years, yet 12 days later, he was arrested again — this time for posting a video detailing his torture and the conditions of his detention.

Those are just two of his unjust run-ins with Iran’s “justice” system.

To date, he has endured two arrests without a warrant, three sham trials and four charges that are routinely used against dissidents — “corruption on earth,” “spreading propaganda,” “cooperating with a hostile government” and “incitement to violence.”

Salehi has spent 528 days in arbitrary detention, at least 400 of which were in solitary confinement or incommunicado.

During all of that time, he wasn’t allowed access to his lawyer or contact with his family and was repeatedly tortured.

All for a song, basically.