Reporters Without Borders is expressing grave concern about the condition of seven jailed Iranian netizens.
These prisoners, all between the ages of 19 and 28, were arrested in various cities last July: Iman Masjedi, Amir Latifi, Mohammad Reza Gholizadeh, Ladan Mostoufi Ma’ab, Hanieh Saneh Farshi, Hojjat Nikouyi and Sepehr Ebrahimi.
They were first charged with “insulting sanctities, propaganda and activities against the regime, insulting the prophet and enmity against God.” The court, however, withdrew the charges of insulting the prophet and enmity against God, which carry the death penalty. Nonetheless, their sentences were severe, with Masjedi and Ebrahimi serving eight years in prison; Gholizadeh and Farshi, seven years; and Nikouyi and Mostoufi Ma’ab, five years. Latifi was sentenced to seven years in prison and 74 lashes.
In a statement released today, RWB adds that the netizens “were pressured to admit to organizing an anti-religious network of blasphemers. They were subjected to long periods in solitary confinement and tortured in order to obtain the confessions that were used against them during their trial.”
The press-rights organization reports that these prisoners are “now ill or suffering serious physical and psychological effects from the treatment they have received.” Some of them reportedly have even been injured in knife attacks by their inmates.
Reporters Without Borders goes on to condemn the Islamic Republic’s disregard of prisoner rights and lists the cases of Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, Saeed Malekpour, Vahid Asghari, Navid Khanjani and Sakhi Rigi, who were all imprisoned for their web activities.
According to RWB statistics, 22 journalists and 16 netizens are currently imprisoned by the Islamic Republic, which together with its “repressive legislation” ranks Iran 175th out of 178 countries on the group’s press freedom index.