Young Man Facing Death for Insulting Islam Online Tricked into Signing Confession
Sina Dehghan, sentenced to death for “insulting the prophet” of Islam when he was 19-years-old, was tricked into signing his confession, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Despite the severity of the charge, a court-appointed attorney who failed to defend him properly represented him during his trial, added the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
“During his interrogation, Sina was told that if he signed a confession and repented, he would be pardoned and let go,” said the source in an interview with CHRI on March 21, 2017. “Unfortunately, he made a childish decision and accepted the charges. Then they sentenced him to death.”
“Later he admitted that he signed the confession hoping to get freed,” said the source. “Apparently the authorities also got him to confess in front of a camera as well.”
“Security and judicial authorities promised Sina’s family that if they didn’t make any noise about his case, he would have a better chance of being freed, and that talking about it to the media would work against him,” added the source. “Unfortunately, the family believed those words and stopped sharing information about his case and discouraged others from sharing it as well.”
“Sina is not feeling well,” continued the source. “He’s depressed and cries constantly. He’s being held in a ward with drug convicts and murderers who broke his jaw a while ago.”
“He was a 19-year-old boy at the time (of his arrest) and had never done anything wrong in his life,” added the source.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested Dehghan on October 21, 2015 at a military barracks in Tehran after he made comments against Islam and the Quran on the LINE instant messaging application. He has been imprisoned in Arak Prison ever since.
Initially, Branch 1 of the Criminal Court in Arak sentenced Dehghan to death for “insulting the prophet” and 16 months in prison for “insulting the supreme leader.” The Supreme Court confirmed his death sentence in late January, according to the source.
Deghan’s co-defendants, Sahar Eliasi and Mohammad Nouri, were also convicted of posting anti-Islamic content on social media.
Nouri was issued the death sentence, which was upheld by the Appeals Court, but it is not known if the Supreme Court has issued a final ruling.
Eliasi was initially issued a seven-year prison sentence, which was later reduced to three years upon appeal.
According to article 262 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, insulting the prophet is punishable by death. However, Article 263 states that if the accused tells the court that his insults were the result of anger or a mistake, the sentence could be reduced to 74 lashings.
“Sina is allowed to contact his family by phone and receive visits,” the source told CHRI. “During the past year, his family has come from Tehran to visit him every week.”