Iranian human rights lawyer arrested by IRGC officers at Tehran airport

Mustafa Nili's sister claimed on Twitter that was arrested at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport by IRGC intel officials on Monday evening.

 Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. expulsion from Iran, in Tehran, Iran November 4, 2022 (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi speaks during the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. expulsion from Iran, in Tehran, Iran November 4, 2022
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Iranian human rights lawyer Mustafa Nili was arrested on Monday by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), his sister wrote on Twitter.

"An hour ago, Mustafa Nili was arrested and taken away [by police] after they inspected my mother's house," Fatemeh Nil wrote late on Monday.

Later on Monday evening, the lawyer's sister claimed he was arrested at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport by IRGC intel officials. She added that four IRGC agents, three males and a female, "inspected" her mother's home after the arrest of her brother.

Who is Mustafa Nili?

Known for having represented student union activists and political prisoners captured by the Islamic Republic, Nili was detained several times by Iranian security forces since 2009 after he took part in demonstrations against former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election victory that year.

According to Dublin-based human rights organization Front Line Defenders, Nili served a three-year prison sentence after being convicted of "gathering and collusion to act against the national security" of Iran by a military court. 

He served an additional six months for charges accusing him of spreading "propaganda against the state." He was released on November 18, 2014.

 A man gestures during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's ''morality police'', in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022.  (credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS) A man gestures during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's ''morality police'', in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022. (credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Nili was also one of seven Iranian lawyers arrested in August 2021 for filing a complaint to Iran's National Coronavirus Combat Task Force over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to local reports at the time, Iranian security officers arrested the lawyers in the midst of a meeting with the Tehran Citizen’s Rights Protection Association on the issue.

Front Line Defenders reported that he was released on December 18 on an eight billion Iranian rial ($188,679) bail following his arrest, during which he was detained in the infamous Evin prison in Tehran that caught fire last month.

Nationwide protests across Iran

Nili's arrest comes amid nationwide unrest in the Islamic Republic following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran's so-called "morality police."

The protests, ongoing for nearly two months, have seen thousands of Iranian demonstrators arrested by security forces.