Legal Expert Decries Refusal to Release Sosha Makani on Bail till Investigation is Completed

Sosha Makani, Persepolis soccer club goalkeeper and member of the Iranian national soccer team at the 2014 World Cup, was arrested on January 4, 2016, in connection with photographs posted on social media of Makani with various women. His arrest is unlawful, legal expert Hossein Raeesi told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

There were no private complaints against him but his case is being investigated by Section 12 of the State Employees Court presided over by Judge Hosseinzadeh.

“The law regarding Internet crimes says if someone directly posts indecent photos of himself or others online, then a crime has been committed. But given his lawyer’s statements [regarding the hacking of Makani’s account] and the fact that he is a famous person, I doubt he posted the photos himself,” Hosseini said.

The photos show Makani alongside young women. Some appear to be dancing with him and some look like they are posing as fans.

Makani’s lawyer, Behnam Ali-Mohammadi, said that Judge Hosseinzadeh has asked the Iranian Cyber Police (FATA) to investigate this case, according to the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA). 

“We have said that the images in question have nothing to do with my client. His Telegram account as well as his mobile phone were hacked,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tehran Cyber Police Chief Colonel Mohammad Mehdi Kakovan denied that Makani’s case has been referred to his force for investigation. “We don’t have any information about the details of this case.”

According to Article 17 of the cyber crimes law, “Any person who publishes private or family photos or videos of others through the Internet without their permission, in such a way that causes them harm or disrepute, will be punishable from 91 days to two years in prison or fined from five million rials (about $168) to 40 million rials (about $1340) or both.”

A source told the Iranian Judiciary’s official news agency Mizan that one of the women in the alleged photos had agreed not to press charges against Makani “but he will stay in prison because the photos have spread corruption and indecency in society and we have to find out the truth.”

Legal expert Raeesi told the Campaign that Makani’s detention without any private plaintiffs or existence of proof of a crime was unlawful.  He added: “It’s not right to send him to prison. The Judicial authorities should let him go free on bail until the investigation is complete.”

There was one report from the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) which claimed a number of veteran soccer stars had mediated Makani’s release but a Judiciary source later denied it.

Persepolis club spokesperson Hossein Abdi expressed hope that Makani’s arrest was only a “misunderstanding” and that he would be released soon. “We will do everything we can to have Sosha Makani back as our player but we have to respect the Judiciary’s decision.”