Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, an Iranian 36-year-old human rights activist and writer, was sentenced to six years in prison over charges of ‘insulting Islamic sanctities’ and ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ for her Facebook posts supporting political prisoners in Iran.
Golrokh was arrested at her home by Iranian security forces without official summons on October 24, 2016. She was taken to the notorious Evin prison, where she was reportedly subjected to physical and psychological torture.
Shiva Mahbobi, Spokesperson for the Campaign to Free political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI), reports:
“When they arrested Golrokh she asked the security guards to let her take her medication, at this point she was advised to forget about her medication as she will be in prison until she dies”
Golrokh was denied a fair trial, having the right to defend herself refused. She tried to protest the charges by writing letters to the ‘Revolutionary Court’, but her letters remained unanswered. Her sentence was given during the final court hearing on her absence, while she was admitted to the hospital due to a major surgery.
Golrokh’s husband, Arash Sadeghi, is currently serving 19 years in prison for his human rights activities. He started a hunger strike in protest of Golrokh’s arrest.
Iranian authorities is still holding behind bars Roya Nobakht, a 49-year-old Iranian-British woman, over Facebook posts criticizing the Iranian regime for being too controlling and ‘too Islamic’. Roya was arrested in October 2013 during a visit to her family in Iran, under the suspicion of ‘gathering and participation with intent to commit crimes against national security’ and ‘insulting Islamic sanctities’.
According to the Freedom House’s 2016 Freedom of the Net report, Iran is marked as ‘Not Free’. Social media platforms are being blocked, political and social content is being censored and bloggers are being arrested for expressing their opinions online. The press freedom in the state is also marked as not free.
Among the arrested bloggers, noted the Cartoonist Hadi Heidari who was held behind bars for 8 months for posting a cartoon on Facebook sympathising with the French following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.
According to the report, Iranian authorities pressured the instant messaging app Telegram ‘to cooperate in censorship or face blocking’. The company was given one year to comply with the Supreme Council on Cyberspace’s demand to store data on Iranian users within the country.