The following statement was released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society concerning the unjust sentencing of six innocent Iranian wildlife conservationists being held captive in Iran. These six conservationists face six to ten years in prison on false charges of spying; two additional innocent conservationists had not been told of their verdicts as the others were sentenced.

All eight of the conservationists have been unjustly held captive since 2018. At WCS, we are deeply saddened by this development and stand by the innocence of our fellow conservationists, all of whom had worked or were working for the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

These conservationists were pursuing scientific knowledge, using camera traps, the scientifically-regarded standard and best way to study elusive, shy large mammals, in efforts to save Iran’s critically endangered Asiatic cheetah.

The imprisonment and sentencing of these conservationists sends shock waves across our wildlife conservation community and across the globe. These conservationists deeply care about Iran and its people and have dedicated their lives at preserving Iran's unique natural heritage.

Nations around the world should take a stand for these eight innocent Iranian women and men, Niloufar Bayani, Taher Ghadirian, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, Houman Jowkar, Sepideh Kashani, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, Sam Rajabi, and Morad Tahbaz. They are highly respected conservation professionals and have received great support from across the world. WCS believes these Iranian conservationists should be safeguarded and set free.

WCS had issued on Feb. 22, 2019 a statement expressing great concern about the arrest of the conservationists. Read more HERE.