Gorgan Appeals Court Issues Prison Sentences, Fines for Facebook Posts
Two residents of the Iranian city of Gorgan have been sentenced to prison and another fined for the content of their personal social media postings.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned that Roozbeh Gilasian was sentenced to a year in prison and Nima Saffar to 80 days in prison while Elaheh Soroushnia was fined eight million tomans ($2,412 USD) by the Appeals Court in Gorgan Province in September 2017.
“They didn’t do anything other than post their views on Facebook and have friendly get-togethers, but apparently in Iran that’s enough to be charged with spreading lies and acting against national security and being sent to jail,” a source with knowledge about the cases told CHRI.
The charges the three were convicted of include “spreading falsehoods” on social media and “acting against national security,” according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The preliminary court had previously given them much harsher sentences,” said the source. “Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Gorgan had sentenced Gilasian to five years in prison, Soroushnia to one year in prison and Saffar to two years in prison.”
Gilasian was also issued a suspended six-month prison sentence in a separate case, again for the charge of “spreading falsehoods,” added the source.
Gilasian has authored books on philosophy without publication permits from Iran’s Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry. The books, which were published electronically, are available online, including Falsafeh dar Khiaban (Street Philosophy) and Jozveh Enghelab (The Revolution File).
Soroushnia and Saffar have published poetry online.
The three were arrested between October and November 2015 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Intelligence Organization and interrogated for a month while in solitary confinement at the Amirabad Prison in Gorgan before being released on bail.
Iranian writers are subjected to censorship policies and arbitrary arrests for peacefully engaging in their profession. In 2015, poets Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi were issued sentences of nine and eleven years in prison respectively and 99 lashes each.
Poet Hila Sedighi, who was arrested in January 2016, said she was watched throughout her detention “as if they were watching a murderer.”