Iran: Record Breaking 20-Year Jail Sentence for Blogger

Writing about Iranian bloggers offers few moments of respite. The sad stories are endless, and the threats don't seem to subside. As though repression and censorship were not enough, bad luck seems to play in too. What follows are the stories of three bloggers, who are each serving very long sentences in Iran.

Sakhi Rigi

Sakhi Rigi is a blogger who was sentenced to 20 years prison in Zahedan, in Sistan and Baluchistan province, on charges of publishing false infomation and “acts against national security.” This is the longest sentence ever passed on a blogger in Iran.

Sakhi Rigi

Sakhi Rigi

His blog was called Balouchestan Sarfaraz (Pride Baluchistan) [fa]. Rigi was arrested on 18 June, 2009, and is being held in appalling conditions in Karon prison, in Ahvaz. Torture was used to extract a confession. Adding to his bad luck, is that he has the same surname as Abdolmalek Rigi, the late head of the Balochi armed opposition group Jundallah, which in the eyes of the authorities implicates him.

Human Rights Activists Agency reports [fa] that:

… the blogger is 31 years old and was arrested six days after presidential election in 2009 and was jailed in solitary cell for seven months… he was studying in university and had just few months to end his studies… it seems his posts played a role in his jail sentence.

On the blog there are a few posts about the controversial presidential election in 2009 and a comment on a statement by opposition leader, Mir Hussein Mousavi. He also posted about ancient history in Balochestan and about a Sunni Muslim high-ranked cleric in Iran.

Hossein Derakhshan

Hossein Derakhshan

Hossein Derakhshan

On June 8, 2011, the family of Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan said the court had rejected their appeal and confirmed a 19 and a half year jail sentence [fa]. He was arrested in 2008.

In a blog written in Farsi created by the Derakhshan family, Edalat Baraye Hossein Derakhshan (meaning Justice for Hossein Derakhshan) there are still no reports or updates on this topic. The last post speaks about [fa] Hossein's temporary release during the Iranian New Year in April.

An informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Derakhshan had requested a prison furlough [temporary leave of absence] after a lower court sentenced him to 19 and a half years in prison in September 2010.

Blogger and writer Cyrus Farivar, posted a copy of an email exchange he had with Derakhshan during his brief time out of jail.

Read more on Derakhshan on Global Voices Advocacy. A Free Hoder blog was created by online free speech activists shortly after his arrest.

Hossein Rongahi Maleki

Hossein Rongahi Maleki

Hossein Rongahi Maleki

Iranian blogger Hossein Rongahi Maleki is sentenced to 15 years in prison, and suffers from bad health. HRNA reports that he was refused medical care. His second operation was postponed for the third time.

Free Hossein [fa] is a campaign on the Internet that has been launched to provide the information on this jailed blogger. Free Hossein presents itself as a “committee to follow Hossein's case”. According to the campaign:

Hossein suffers from kidney and mouth problems and is in a lot of pain. He wrote a letter about how he was tortured by Intelligence Ministry agents to be forced to confess to a prosecutor, but the letter was confiscated.

Hossein was arrested in November 2009 and was confined in a solitary cell for more than a year.

In other news…

Ali Pour Soleiman, a blogger and teacher was arrested in Iran a few days ago. He was a member of Association of Teachers and wrote [fa] in Sokhane Molem (means teacher's word) blog.

Houman Khakpour, an environmental blogger in Iran has been sued by the state run Bureau for Environmental Protection in the Chahrmahal Bakhtyari province, for warning about the the dangers of a gas pipeline project for the region's environment.

Probabaly the only good news is that Iran's supreme court has overturned the death sentence of software and website designer Saeed Malekpour's on charges of creating pornographic sites and insulting Islam.

The bad news is that there are even more unconfirmed reports about jailed bloggers and cyber activists. Iranian bloggers are facing ‘Winter in Spring’. Again.

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