Pro-Rouhani and Reformist Social Media Admins Sentenced to Prison in Iran
Six administrators of Iranian reformist political channels on the Telegram messaging network have been sentenced to terms ranging from two to five years in prison.
According to a verdict issued by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court, Nima Keshvari and Ali Ahmadnia were sentenced to five years in prison each, Saeed Naghdi, Javad Jamshidi to four years in prison each, Sobhan Jafari to three years in prison and Mojtaba Bagheri to two years in prison, their lawyer Ali Mojtahedzadeh told the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) on August 30, 2017.
The lawyer did not reveal the specific charges brought against them but said the verdict would be appealed.
In mid-March 2017, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Intelligence Organization arrested 12 administrators of channels that published news and information in support of Hassan Rouhani’s bid for a second term in the May 2017 presidential election. Eventually six of them were charged.
“I cannot fathom the indifference being shown by the intelligence minister [Mahmoud Alavi] and other officials regarding the problems facing pro-government Telegram Channel admins,” wrote reformist member of Parliament from Tehran, Mahmoud Sadeghi, in a post on Twitter on August 30 after the verdict was announced.
Sadeghi appeared to be referring to the fact that, in addition to supporting Rouhani’s campaign, some of the convicted admins managed Alavi’s channel on Telegram and yet they had not received any government support since their arrest.
After their arrest, Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei suggested that Alavi himself was implicated in the case. A photo appeared on social media showing the minister posing with some of the detained admins.
“Regarding this particular case, there are matters that relate to the intelligence minister himself and therefore he cannot comment on this case or prepare a report about it,” said Ejei on April 12.
Alavi immediately denied any connection. “I don’t know of any crime the admins may have committed for which I share responsibility,” Alavi said. “It looks like they may have been arrested because of me.”
The convicted admins managed channels including Havadaran Rouhani (Supporters of Rouhani), Zendehbad Eslahat (Long Live Reform), Daneshjooyan Eslahtalab (Reformist Students) and Hamian Khatami Dar Yazd (supporters of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami in Yazd).