Free The Facebook 8: Iranians Sentenced To 5-7 Years For Social Activism on Facebook
- UN, Ban ki-Moon, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ahmed Shaheed, EU, European Parliament, State Department, RWB
UPDATE FEBRUARY 18, 2016--AMIR GOLESTANI LAUNCHES PRISON HUNGER STRIKE
An Iranian activist imprisoned for his social media activity has gone on a wet hunger strike to protest the Judiciary’s rejection of his request for conditional release.
Amir Golestani, 35, was sentenced to seven years in prison with a group of other social media activists in April 2015 for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “insulting the sacred.”
At the time of his arrest in 2013, Golestani was the administrator of a Facebook page called Zendegi-e Sagi (Living Like a Dog), where he had posted comments that were critical of social and political issues in Iran.
The law says that those who have been charged with ‘insulting the sacred’ can ask for conditional release after serving a third of their sentence,” said the source. “Amir has been in prison for 31 months. He has been one of the good and calm prisoners.”
But Golestani’s request for conditional release has been rejected for an “unknown reason,” the source told the Campaign, adding that Golestani’s “family has only been told that the prosecutor is opposed to his release but they have not said why.”
Golestani was arrested on August 20, 2013 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization at his workplace in Babolsar, located about 140 miles north of Tehran.
He and seven other Facebook activists were collectively put on trial at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court and sentenced by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh to sentences ranging from seven to twenty years, but their sentences were later reduced.
The initial sentencing by Moghiseh, which was harsher than what the law allows, was intended to spread fear among Internet users in Iran, and dissuade Iranians from stepping outside strict state controls on cyberspace.
SOURCE: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
UPDATE MAY 11, 2015 -- FINAL SENTENCES: MOST ARE SENTENCE TO EITHER FIVE OR SEVEN YEARS IN PRISON FOR THE "CRIME" OF SOCIAL ACTIVISM ON FACEBOOK.
An appeals court in Tehran has sentenced six individuals to prison terms ranging from five to seven years for postings on their Facebook pages. Two additional individuals are facing as of yet unknown terms for their activities on the social networking site.
These are the final verdicts for a group of eight Facebook users arrested in 2014, and represent a reduction from sentences that originally ranged as high as 20 years for their posting of peaceful online content. The sentences indicate a continuation of an assault on freedom of speech in Iran that has increasingly focused on social media.
A source familiar with the case informed the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran of these sentences, and said that the court’s ruling, which was served to six of the suspects’ lawyers last week, indicated that they were given maximum sentence according to the New Islamic Penal Code.
“It is still not clear which charges the Appeals Court Judge has used for the five individuals’ seven-year sentences. They were all charged with “assembly and collusion against national security” and “insulting the sacred,” and the maximum penalty for each is seven years in prison,” said the source.
Massoud Seyed Talebi, Farid Akramipour, Fariborz Kardar Fard, Massoud Ghasemkhani, and Amir Golestani were each sentenced to seven years, and Mehdi Reyshahri was sentenced to five years in prison. Regarding the two other individuals, both female, whose final ruling is unknown, Roya Saberi Nobakht is being held inside Gharchak Prison in Varamin, and the other, who has two young children, was released on bail upon completion of interrogations in 2014.
The eight suspects were sentenced on charges such as “insulting the Supreme Leader,” “insulting state officials,” and “propaganda against the state.”
“Lawyers for these individuals insist on knowing which of the charges the Judge used for issuing the seven-year sentence, because although the two charges have the same length of imprisonment as maximum punishment, they have different legal ramifications,” said the source.
“According to the New Islamic Penal Code, if an individual is charged with ‘insulting the sacred,’ he or she can request conditional release after serving 1/3 of the sentence; however, for the charge of ‘assembly and collusion,’ there is no conditional release. Therefore, if their sentence is related to the charge of ‘insulting the sacred,’ they can apply for conditional release after serving 2.5 years in prison,” the source stated.
The source also noted that the six individuals were being held in very poor conditions inside Evin Prison. “Last week, for unknown reasons, prison officials transferred them from Ward 350 to Ward 8, a ward that does not have suitable sanitary and living conditions and it is a ward in which prisoners with different types of crimes are held. The six men sleep on the floor [because there are no beds available for them in this ward].”
According to a report by IRNA on July 13, 2014, the eight young individuals active on Facebook were originally sentenced on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the sacred, insulting Heads of Branches, and insulting individuals.” The report indicated that the IRGC’s Sarallah Base had pursued and identified the eight individuals and arrested them in July 2013. The case was reviewed at the Evin Prison Courts and forwarded to Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on February 16, 2014.
SOURCE: International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
URGENT UPDATE: JANUARY 28, 2015-The prison sentences for eight Iranian Facebook activists, totaling 133 years of imprisonment, were confirmed by the Revision department of the Supreme Court, it was reported on January 28, 2015.
According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), over the course of several days in late January, the Supreme Court confirmed the sentences for Masoud Seyed Talebi, Fariborz Kardarfar, Amin Akramipoor, Amir Golestani, Masood Ghasemkhani, Mehdi Rayshahri, Roya Saberi Nezhad Nobakhti and Naghmeh Shahsavandi.
The Supreme Court’s decision raises many uncertainties;furthermore, aggregating all cases together is not an accepted legal practice by an norm; and finally it was not even specified that how much of these prison sentences of these prisoners must endure.
An informed source in this regard, told HRANA’s reporter: “According to the new rule, determination about the sentence duration has been entrusted to the Enforcement Office’s judge, under Article 134, which is against the law.”
It is worth mentioning, Masoud Seyed Talebi was sentenced first to 15 years imprisonment by the lower branch (branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court Judge Moghiseh) and after several months, blasphemy charges were added and the sentence was increased to 20 years by the same branch.
The charges that these people have been convicted of have been listed as follows: “Gathering and collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime, blasphemy, insulting heads of regime”.
That is to say, these people are ordinary people who have been arrested because of supposed "blasphemous" comments and comments deemed insulting to Islamic Republic officials which they posted on Facebook. The oldest of the Facebook 8 is a 42-year-old woman and the youngest is a 21-year-old man in this case.
SOURCE: HRANA Human Rights News Agency
MAY 27, 2014--Eight Iranians (including a British citizen) have been sentenced to harsh prison sentences for the "crime" of making critical comments about the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on their Facebook walls. The eight men and women have been sentenced to a collective total of 123 years by the Tehran Revolutionary court.
THE FACEBOOK 8 ARE:
1. Roya Saberinejad Nobakht, sentenced to 20 years
2. Amir Golestani, sentenced to 20 years
3. Mehdi Reyshahri, sentenced to 11 years
4. Masoud Ghasem Khani, sentenced to 19 years and 91 days
5. Fariborz Kardarfar, sentenced to 18 years and 91 days
6. Sayd Masoud Sayed Talebi, sentenced to 15 years (INCREASED TO 20 YEARS)
7. Amin (Farid) Akramipour, sentenced to 13 years
8. Naghmeh Shahi Savandi Shirazi, sentenced to 7 years and 91 days
These 8 people were charged with assembly and collusion against the national security, insulting the Supreme Leader, insulting the authorities, propaganda against the regime, blasphemy, and spreading lies and disturbing the public’s peace.
The Revolutionary Court, based on Article 134 of the new Islamic Republic’s Penal Code has issued these sentences, giving them more than half of the maximum penalty. But, according to this same Article, only the sentence for the charge with the highest maximum penalty is enforceable. In this case, that would be the charge of assembly and collusion against the national security, which carries 7 1/2 years of imprisonment.
While the issue of free access to the Internet has become one of the main challenges between the hardliner Judiciary and the administration of Hassan Rouhani and considering the inability of the hardliners to influence the cyber space activities of the people, they have resorted to giving these heavy sentences to make an example and to create an atmosphere of fear in order to stop the people from online activities.
Kaleme had previously reported regarding the IRGC’s scenario and arresting of cyber activists in the summer and fall of 2013. Those people were arrested in Tehran, Shiraz and Sari. They were all held at IRGC’s Ward 2-A in Evin prison where they were interrogated and tortured. Currently they are being held in Evin prison and Gharchak prison for women in Varamin.
Despite the fact that the IRGC interrogators have charged these 8 people with various false charges, that the Court used to convict them, Kaleme’s reporter investigations showed that activities of these 8 people were limited to criticism of the ruling establishment’s policies, poems and songs of protest, spreading the news of the events of post-2009 presidential election and political-social satires.
These activists, under pressure by the interrogators and with false promises of leniency, gave false confessions on national TV, apologizing for their actions, voicing regret for their Facebook activities, and warned about the ill effects of these social networking sites.
FARSI-LANGUAGE SOURCE: Kaleme
English Translation by Persian Banoo:
WHEREAS: The manner of detention, mistreatment under interrogation and draconian prison sentences meted out to these eight Iranian social activists are all in gross contravention of internationally accepted norms of jurisprudence;
AND WHEREAS: The charges which led to these harsh prison sentences (namely: "assembly and collusion against the national security"; "insulting the Supreme Leader"; "insulting the authorities"; "propaganda against the regime"; "blasphemy" and "spreading lies and disturbing the public’s peace") are politically motivated and based solely on the peaceful expression of critical views vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic regime in Iran by these eight inviduals through their posts on Facebook;
AND WHEREAS: These eight Iranian social activists are therefore prisoners of conscience whose ongoing imprisonment constitutions a flagrant violation of Article 18, Section 1, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; AND Article 19, Sections 1 & 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Iran is a signatory) AND Article 24 of the Iranian Constitution;
THEREFORE: We, the undersigned demand that the international community act urgently to bring all possible pressure to bear upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to IMMEDIATELY and UNCONDTIONALLY release Roya Saberinejad Nobakht, Amir Golestani, Mehdi Reyshahri, Masoud Ghasem Khani, Fariborz Kardarfar, Sayd Masoud Sayed Talebi, Amin (Farid) Akramipour and Naghmeh Shahi Savandi Shirazi. The illegal prison sentences against them must be rescinded and the (equally illegal) charges brought against them must be dropped.
The Free The Facebook 8: Iranians Sentenced To 5-7 Years For Social Activism on Facebook petition to UN, Ban ki-Moon, OHCHR, Navi Pillay, Ahmed Shaheed, EU, European Parliament, State Department, RWB was written by John S. Burke and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.