Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, a Beach resident of Iranian descent, has been languishing in Evan Prison in Tehran since 2008 on a trumped-up espionage charge. Hamid had been sentenced to death in 2009, but that sentence was suspended shortly thereafter. The suspension has recently been revoked and Hamid could be executed at any time.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed,” said Antonella Mega, Ghassemi-Shall’s wife. “It seems like it never ends.”
It was Canada’s Foreign Affairs department that contacted Mega to tell her that the sentence had been reinstated. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dianne Ablonczy, had gone to bat for Ghassemi-Shall in the past, and sent Mega a letter as recently as March 9. She told Mega that Foreign Affairs had written to the Iranian government, and that she should “give it time to work.”
“In my opinion Foreign Affairs haven’t been doing their job,” Mega said. “They are just waking up and finally realizing that they [the Iranian government] are serious.”
Mega said that she received a phone call from her husband at 5:30 a.m. on March 9. She said that although it was wonderful to hear his voice, it was very difficult to make him feel better.
“He said to me, ‘I can’t take it anymore! I don’t know what I’m going to do!’,” she said.
Mega is convinced that the recent pressure by United Nations countries on the Iranian government over its nuclear program is what’s driving the Iranians’ hard-line approach to Ghassemi-Shall. She is certain that they view him as a political prisoner. Even though a new judge on the case was convinced that Ghassemi-Shall is innocent of espionage, he is unable to re-open the case, or overturn the sentence.
“I’m not going to give up!,” Mega said. “But it’s taking a physical and emotional toll on me. My life is upside down.”
She is in regular contact with Hamid’s sister in Iran who visits him three or four times a week. Mega also has strong support from Amnesty International which has recently set up a travelling scrapbook which will work its way across the country gathering support for the plight of Hamid Ghassemi-Shall. View it at facebook.com/HamidScrapbook. For more information, including how to write to Foreign Affairs, visit freehamid.org.