Former Student Activist Sentenced to Another Year in Prison
A revolutionary court in Tehran has sentenced former student activist and political prisoner Payman Aref to another year in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime,” marking his third sentence since the disputed 2009 presidential election.
Aref wrote on his Facebook page that he and his lawyer, Massoud Oliaei Fard, were summoned by telephone to appear before Branch 28 of Tehran Revolutionary Court on June 7, 2014, and when they appeared at the court, they were informed of the new ruling.
Aref published the court ruling on his Facebook page. The ruling indicates the reason for his new sentence was his resumption of “activities against the Islamic Republic of Iran in cyber space,” following his previous convictions. One of the examples of his activities used to substantiate the charge of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran” is that “he introduced himself as a ‘starred student’ on Facebook, and thus introduced the Islamic Republic regime as one that deprives students of their right to education.”
“Starred” students are those who have been banned from education in Iran due to their political activities or religious beliefs.
Other examples cited include his membership in the National Front (a now-banned political party) and “meeting and helping families of individuals imprisoned after the riots [the authorities’ term for the peaceful post-election protests in 2009], and meeting anti-revolutionary elements such as Abbas Amir Entezam and Nasrin Sotoudeh, and introducing Nasrin Sotoudeh as ‘an individual who fights oppression despite being oppressed.'” (Amir Entezam is a former deputy prime minister of Iran and the longest-held political prisoner in the country. Sotoudeh is a prominent human rights lawyer who was imprisoned for defending political prisoners in Iran.) The charges also note his signing of a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon that defended Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, the opposition leaders under house arrest since 2011, and defending human rights.
Payman Aref, a law student who was banned from continuing his education, was arrested following the disputed 2009 election on July 18, 2009. He was released after 90 days in solitary confinement where he was interrogated and tortured. Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Aref to one year in prison, a lifetime ban on press activities and membership in political parties, and 74 lashes on the charge of “insulting the President” because of a letter he wrote to then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on May 23, 2009. He was released on October 9, 2011, after he completed his prison sentence and received 74 lashes.
Aref was arrested again on December 30, 2011 when he and two other political activists visited the grave of Neda Agha Soltan’s, the woman who was killed during the post-election crackdown. He was released several weeks later. He was arrested again on March 16, 2012 and transferred to Evin Prison and was released on bail in April 2012 without being prosecuted.