Technology Website Staffers Rushed to Prison Before Appeals Court Verdict
Four convicted staff members of a leading Iranian technology website who were free on bail while awaiting an Appeals Court verdict on their cases were taken to a prison in Kerman Province on February 17, 2016, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“After explaining everything in front of the Appeals Court, the defense attorneys were hoping that their clients would all be acquitted, but now four of them have been taken to jail before a verdict has been issued on their appeal,” said the source.
Ali Asghar Honarmand, Hossein Nozari, Ehsan Paknejad and Abbas Vahedi—who wrote articles for the popular technology review website, Narenji (Orange)—were sentenced to 11 years, seven years, five years and two-and-a-half years in prison respectively in June 2014 for allegedly “designing sites, websites, and creating content for media hostile to the regime.”
The charges against them included “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security.”
The Narenji staffers’ appeal was heard in Branch 1 of the Appeals Court in Kerman on November 30, 2015, but no verdict has been issued.
“The prosecutor claimed the company had developed websites for those involved in the  Green Movement, but it was their occupation to build websites,” the source told the Campaign.
The Green Movement rose out of the peaceful protests against the widely disputed results of the 2009 presidential election in Iran. The movement is still a highly sensitive subject in Iran, referred to by hardliners as “the sedition.”
The source added that the technology professionals “were asked by customers to create sites for them but they had nothing to do with the content.”
Fourteen of the Narenji website’s workers were arrested on December 3, 2013 by the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Organization but only 11 were charged. In addition to the four mentioned above, Mehdi Faryabi, Amir Sadeghpour, Alireza Vaziri, Mohammad Mousazadeh, Mostafa Pourgharib and Maliheh Nakhaei were also arrested at the time, said the source.
Narenji was developed by Paat Shargh Govashir, a company launched by Ali Asghar Honarmand that aimed to provide news and information about Internet technology and related gadgets to the general public.
It quickly became one of the most popular technology sites in the country while receiving international recognition and awards.