On March 20, 2011, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that Iranian pharmacologist Ebrahim Yazdi had been released from Evin Prison, after having been detained without charge for more than five months. According to IRNA, immediately before his release Dr. Yazdi issued a short statement that read: I hereby announce my resignation as the secretary-general of the Freedom Movement of Iran [FMI]. At the time of his release, Dr. Yazdi, age 79, was likely the oldest political prisoner in Iran.
Dr. Yazdi had served as a leader of the FMI—a political party that has been banned by the Iranian government—since the late 1970s, becoming its secretary-general in December 1994. (The stated goals of the FMI include safeguarding the economic, social, and cultural rights of all Iranians, guarding against abuses of the constitution and of civil rights, and expanding opportunities for the growth of democracy and a multi-party system in Iran.)
Dr. Yazdi was detained three times since Iran’s June 29, 2009, presidential elections. His first detention occurred five days after the election and lasted a day or two. On December 28, 2009, he was detained a second time and held without charge until February 24, 2010, when a Tehran prosecutor granted him temporary medical leave from prison, and he was transferred to a hospital to undergo triple bypass heart surgery. Despite his advanced age and serious ill-health, Dr. Yazdi was detained a third time on October 1, 2010, and held under harsh conditions of confinement without adequate medical care. According to Kaleme, a website sympathetic to the opposition, during his most recent detention, Dr. Yazdi was detained in Isfahan after he attended the funeral of a daughter of a FMI member. Following the funeral, he and other FMI leaders reportedly went to a private residence, where they subsequently were detained by plain-clothed “security forces and Basij members” for “illegally holding Friday prayers.”