Literary editor Hossein Shanbehzadeh faces charge of “spying for Israel” after his “dot” tweet responding to Iran’s Supreme Leader


UPDATE 1054 GMT:

The death sentence imposed on rapper Toumaj Salehi has been overturned, his lawyer Amir Raesian has posted on social media.

Iran’s Supreme Court referred the case to a lower court for re-consideration.

Salehi was detained soon after the start of nationwide “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests — sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, seized and reportedly beaten by “morality police” — in September 2022. The rapper’s songs, calling for justice and action on social issues, were prominent in the demonstrations.

Activists and artists across the world have pressed the Iranian regime for the lifting of the death sentence and freeing of Salehi from prison.


UPDATE, JUNE 22:

In its latest persecution of the Baha’i faith, Iran’s authorities have condemned two more members to long prison sentences.

A Revolutionary Court in Isfahan sentenced Arshia Rouhani and Hamid Monzavi Joshaghani to five years in prison and a two-year ban on social media and international travel.

Rouhani and Joshaghani were charged with “propaganda against the Islamic Republic” and “membership in groups or associations formed within the country to undermine national security”.

The accusations are commonly used by prosecutors against religious minorities in Iran, including Baha’is.


UPDATE 0916 GMT:

Iranian authorities have imposed prison sentences totaling 29 years and nine months on seven Christian converts.

A Revolutionary Court in Ahvaz in southern Iran punished Hamid Afzali, Nasrollah Mousavi, Bijan Gholizadeh, Iman Salehi, Zohrab Shahbazi, and two other converts whose identities were not disclosed.

Afzali was given 10 years in prison. Mousavi, Gholizadeh, and Salehi were each given five-year terms, while Shahbazi was sentenced to nine months.

The exact charges against the defendants were not specified.


UPDATE 0834 GMT:

An Iranian court has sentenced lawyer Amirhossein Kouhkan, who represented the executed protester Mohammad Mehdi Karami, to six years in prison.

Kouhkan was arrested last year and charged with “assembly and collusion” and “propaganda against the regime”.

Karami was executed in January 2023. He was one of nine demonstrators hanged amid the nationwide “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests, sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini.

Karami’s father Mashallah has also been given a six-year sentence, as Iran’s regime puts pressure on relatives of victims to refrain from any public statements.

See also Iran Updates: Father of Executed Protester Gets 6-Year Sentence


UPDATE, JUNE 20:

Canada has followed the US in listing the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.

The designation could lead to investigation of former senior Iranian officials now living in Canada.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the step is a “significant tool in fighting global terrorism”.

[This sends] a strong message that Canada will use all of the tools at its disposal to combat the terrorist entity of the IRGC.

The Iranian regime has consistently displayed disregard for human rights, both inside and outside of Iran as well as a willingness to destabilize the international rules-based order.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani fumed about “an unwise and unconventional politically-motivated step: “Canada’s action will not have any effect on the Revolutionary Guards’ legitimate and deterrent power.”

Kanaani said Tehran reserves the right to respond.


UPDATE, JUNE 19:

Iran’s regime has added another year to the prison sentence of 2023 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi.

Mohammadi’s lawyer Mostafa Nili said Branch 29 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court punished the human rights activist for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”.

The trial was conducted on June 8 in Mohammadi’s absence. It denounced Mohammadi’s comments about the wife of a former Tehran mayor, a letter calling for a boycott of Parliamentary elections, and letters she wrote to the Parliaments of Sweden and Norway.

Mohammadi has been repeatedly imprisoned since the mass protests against the 2009 disputed Iran Presidential election. In November 2021, she was re-arrested at a memorial and later sentenced to eight years in prison, 74 lashes, and internal exile.

In January, she was given another 15 months in prison, two years of exile from Tehran, and travel bans.

See also “Iranian People Will Overcome Repression and Authoritarianism” — Narges Mohammadi Accepts Nobel Peace Prize


ORIGINAL ENTRY, JUNE 18: Hossein Shanbehzadeh, an Iranian literary editor and online activist, has been imprisoned in Ardabil in northwest Iran.

He was detained on June 4, as he was visiting a friend, after a tweet which consisted of a single dot.

Shanbehzadeh, known for his challenges to authorities and their actions, replied to a tweet in which the Supreme Leader posing with Iran’s national volleyball team. The response went viral, with more likes than Ayatollah Khamenei’s post.

The account was locked by Iranian officials, with the last post written by someone else, according to Shanbezadeh’s brother Abbas.

Shanbezadeh told his family of his detention on June 4. Within 24 hours, without any access to a lawyer, he was charged with “spying for Israel”.

In a written statement, relatives said the charge “cannot be justified” based on the editor’s online activities. They insisted that he “must first enjoy the basic rights of a prisoner”.

Fars, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, trumpeted that “a Mossad agent had traveled to several provinces in the hope of taking refuge there and finally leaving the country, before he was identified and captured during a surprise operation in Ardabil Province”.

But Shanbehzadeh’s brother Abbas noted that the editor had announced his plans to travel to Ardabil in advance and had shared updates about the trip on social media just before he was seized.

On Sunday, Abbas said of a phone call with his brother, “During the conversation, Hossein repeatedly swore by my mother’s honor and told her: I have not done what they say.”

In 2019, Shanbehzadeh was sentenced to prison on charges of “insulting the sanctities and the leader of the Islamic Republic” over his criticism of Iran’s leadership.