Iran Updates: Comedian Condemned to 2 Years in Prison for Comic Remarks About Hijab


Trying to tighten its control of Internet access, Iran’s regime has officially banned virtual private networks.

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace issued a decree endorsed by the Supreme Leader. A VPN may only be used if explicitly authorized by officials.

The regime did not explain how it plans to enforce the ban. Communications technology expert Mohammad Keshvari said the prohibition of VPNs is “not new, but the latest decree fails to clarify the consequences for those who defy it”.

The Iranian Parliament has previously removed criminal penalties from proposed legislation over VPNs.


Iranian authorities have handed another prison sentence to Manouchehr Bakhtiari, the father of Pouya Bakhtiari, killed by security forces during nationwide protests in 2019.

The elder Bakhtiari, already condemned to 18 years and 74 lashes, was given another six months for “insulting the leadership”.

Pouya Bakhtiari was shot on November 19, 2019, on the second day of demonstrations sparked by the government’s sudden decision to raise petrol prices.

Manouchehr Bakhtiari’s “crime” was to seek justice for his son, leading to his arrest in April 2021.

Pouya Bakhtiari’s mother, Nahid Shirpisheh, is also serving a prison sentence.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, FEB 13: Iran’s authorities have sentenced the uncle of Mahsa Amini, the young woman whose death in police custody sparked the “Woman. Life. Freedom” protests from September 2022, to 3 1/2 years in prison.

Safa Aeli was prosecuted over comments he made about the protests which challenged Iran’s regime over women’s rights, justice, and security. He was arrested last September, just before the first anniversary of the death of Amini, detained and reportedly beaten by “morality police” over “inappropriate attire”. The Kurdish human rights organization Hengaw said he was “brutally assaulted” during 42 days in prison before being released on bail.

Aeli was sentenced by Branch 1 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Saqqez in northwest Iran, the Amini family’s hometown, for “participation in a gathering and conspiracy against internal security”, “propaganda against the system”, and “insulting the leader of the Islamic Republic.”

The sentences total 5 years, 4 months, and 17 days in prison. Because they run concurrently, Aeli will serve the 3 1/2-year term for “conspiracy”.

One-third of the punishment is suspended for three years, conditional upon Aeli refraining from associating with anyone arrested during the commemorations of the anniversary of Amini’s death. He must also report to the Intelligence Office and complete three educational, ethical, and religious courses.

Activist Concerns Over Health of Imprisoned Organizer of Mahsa Amini’s Funeral

Human rights activists have called for the immediate release from prison of collegaue Osman Esmaili, 63, who organized Mahsa Amini’s funeral.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran says it has information that Esmaili has been deemed unfit for prison by a medical examiner. He is suffering from heart disease, asthma, rheumatism, and a herniated disc which needs an immediate operation.

“Prison authorities are not paying attention to his dire health, and no measures have been taken to treat and deal with his illnesses,” said a “source with detailed knowledge of his case”.

Despite his family posting $20,000 in bail, Esmaili has been denied release or medical furlough.