Rouhani's Brother Goes to Prison

October 16, 2019

On October 16, Hossein Fereydoun, the brother of President Hassan Rouhani and a senior negotiator in nuclear talks with the United States, began a five-year prison term in Tehran’s Evin prison. He was arrested in 2017 and initially sentenced to seven years in prison; an appeals court reduced the sentence to five years. Lawmakers in Iran’s parliament demanded an investigation into Fereydoun for allegations of  corruption and accepting bribes.

Fereydoun’s supporters claimed the charges were politically motivated and an attempt by hardliners to undermine President Rouhani. "I strongly and categorically reject allegations against me in the court and some of the media, and I'm protesting," Fereydoun said during his sentencing. Rouhani was elected twice with the backing of both reformists and centrists. Rouhani has never commented publicly on his brother’s case.

Fereydoun, who was considered a centrist, was a special advisor to the President . For two years, he as a senior diplomat on the negotiation team that brokered the 2015 nuclear deal with the world’s six major powers.

One of the most dangerous positions in Iran is to be a former president or related to one. The son of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997) son was jailed in 2015 on corruption and bribery charges. Rafsanjani’s daughter, a former member of parliament and a member of Iran’s Olympic committee, was twice sentenced to prison--once in 2012 and again in 2017--for spreading anti-regime propaganda. Since 2010, President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) has been banned from traveling abroad and being quoted in the press.

The inner circle of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013) were also prosecuted. In September 2018, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a vice president, chief of staff, and senior aide, received a six -year prison sentence on charges of threatening national security and spreading anti-regime propaganda. Ali Akbar Javanfekr, Ahmadinejad’s top press aide, was sentenced to four years in the same case. In December 2017, Hamid Baghaei, another vice president under Ahmadinejad, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on corruption charges.