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‘My Heart Stopped’: Iranian Activist’s Family Exults From Afar, but Remains Fearful for Her

Narges Mohammadi’s 16-year-old son, Ali, who lives in Paris, was in school when the Nobel Peace Prize was announced on Friday. He kept refreshing his phone under the table until 11 a.m. struck — and his mother’s name flashed across the screen.

“My heart stopped,” Ali said afterward in an interview inside the Paris apartment where he and his twin sister, Kiana, live with their father, Taghi Rahmani, Ms. Mohammadi’s husband.

“I couldn’t shout in class, but I was so happy,” added Ali, who has been separated from his mother since 2015 and last spoke to her over a year ago. She is serving a 10-year jail sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison for “spreading anti-state propaganda.”

The family’s small apartment was abuzz with activity as visitors and reporters squeezed in and out, and as Mr. Rahmani fielded dozens of telephone interviews in Persian with news outlets from all over the world, mint tea in hand and sharing chocolates.

“We want the voice of the Iranian people to be amplified from the inside,” Mr. Rahmani said through an interpreter, sitting on a blue couch not far from a framed picture of him and his wife that sat on a bookshelf.

He said he and his children had not yet spoken with Ms. Mohammadi about her Nobel news, because they cannot call the prison where she is held.

“We are afraid for my mom every day,” Ali added. “The Nobel Prize is a sign for her to continue straight on, to not abandon the fight.”

Ali described his mother as “extremely kind” and extremely determined, “someone who will always speak the truth, even with a gun to her head.”

He said his mother wanted to stay in Iran and continue her rights advocacy. But the activism has come at a cost, with the family fearing for her safety every day, and living in a separate country from her.

“This is part of the system of invisible torture of Iran,” Ali said, “how they want to break people.”

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