Home | English | Publications | Reports | Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Iran's Response to the Internet

Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Iran's Response to the Internet

4.3. Arrests Post-Reform Era

Following the election of President Ahmadinejad in the summer of 2005, the arrests of cyber-journalists and bloggers continued. Unlike the 2004 arrests, which the government labeled as Internet-related,327 many of the later arrests were more difficult to categorize, as they were of reformists and activists who kept blogs but also engaged in other forms of dissent.

One example is Yaghoub Mehrnahad, a civil society and human rights activist, who was arrested in May 2007 in Baluchestan. Following a closed trial he was sentenced to death and executed on August 4, 2008. The 28- year-old father of three had kept a blog. Although he vigorously denounced the use of violence in his writings and on his blog, he was charged with being a member of Jundollah, a Sunni Muslim insurgency organization based in Baluchestan.328 Mehrnahad was the president of the Youth Voice of Justice Association, an organization working toward accountability and civil responsibility.329

Other examples were more straightforward. In September 2008, four women’s rights advocates330 who had contributed to the online newspapers Zanestan and Tagir Baraye Barabari (Change for Equality) were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for subversive activities and anti-government propaganda.331 On appeal, their lawyer, Masomeh Sotoudeh, argued that their convictions should be reversed on the grounds that posting articles defending women’s rights should not constitute a crime.332 In January 2009, their convictions were still on appeal.

Similarly, Omidreza Mirsayafi was arrested for his blog, Rooznegar, a cultural and artistic blog that sometimes delved into satirical or critical commentary on current events. On April 22, 2008, Mirsayafi was arrested and taken to Evin prison. Forty-one days later he was released after posting bail in the amount of 1 billion rials (US$100,000).333 On November 2, 2008, he was convicted pursuant to articles 500 and 514 of the Islamic Penal Code for insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic [Ayatollah Khomeini] and the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei], and for propaganda against the regime.334 At a hearing on December 15, he was sentenced to two and a half years of imprisonment.

Mirsayafi remained puzzled about the specifics of his crime and the evidence against him:

[T]he judgment makes no mention of any specific articles [that were problematic] in my weblog. In reality, there is no explanation regarding how I insulted [the Supreme Leaders and prophets], or why my actions were deemed illegal. Of course, it should also be mentioned that the court relied on confessions that were secured under psychological pressure during my interrogation sessions. Neither I nor my lawyer accepts the [validity of these] confessions. Unfortunately, the judgment relied on these confessions.335

On March 18, 2009, Omidreza Mirsayafi died in Evin prison due to lack of medical attention.336

[327]Letter from Dr. Hossein Mehrpour to Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, (Jan. 4, 2005) (on file with the IHRDC).
[328]One Person’s Story: Mr. Ya’qub Mehrnahad, Bourumand Foundation, available at http://www.iranrights.org/english/memorial-case-40798.php (last visited Apr. 26, 2009).
[329]One Person’s Story: Mr. Ya’qub Mehrnahad, Bourumand Foundation, available at http://www.iranrights.org/english/memorial-case-40798.php (last visited Apr. 26, 2009).
[330]The women were Parvin Ardalan, Jelveh Javaheri, Maryam Hosseinkhah and Nahid Keshavarz. Hosseinkhah had been arrested earlier in the year for attending a gathering to protest the arrest and intimidation of women’s rights activists. See One Million Signature Campaign Timeline, Human Rights First, available at http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/defenders/hrd_iran/hrd_iran_page.aspx?item=57&c=i6 (last visited Apr. 26, 2009).
[331]One Million Signature Campaign Timeline, Human Rights First, available at http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/defenders/hrd_iran/hrd_iran_page.aspx?item=57&c=i6 (last visited Apr. 26, 2009).; see also More websites blocked, supra note 194.
[332]Id.
[333]Press Release, Reporters Without Borders, Shock at death of blogger in Tehran prison (Mar. 18, 2009), available at http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30622 (last visited Apr. 26, 2009) [hereinafter Shock at death of blogger].
[334]Id.
[335]Guftugu ba Omidreza Mirsayafi; Hukm-i Zindan bih Ijrayih Ahkam Irsal Shudih Ast [Interview with Omidreza Mirsayafi; The Prison Sentence Has Been Sent to the Judgment Office, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN IRAN, 16/11/1387 [Feb. 4, 2009], available at http://www.hra-iran.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=444:845&catid=156:47&Itemid=343 (last visited Apr. 26, 2009).
[336]Shock at death of blogger, supra note 333.

« 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 »
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Tagged as:

Free Speech, Right to Protest, Cyber Journalism, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Free Association, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination