Political Prisoner Shahriar Bayat Sentenced to Death for Alleged Insult to Prophet of Islam

Shahriar Bayat, a 64-year-old political prisoner currently held in Evin Prison, has been sentenced to death by the Tehran Criminal Court for allegedly “insulting the prophet of Islam.”

Confirming this conviction, a source close to Bayat’s family informed HRANA that Bayat received this sentence on March 24, 2024, the final day of his furlough from Evin Prison. This verdict was issued by Branch 13 of the Tehran Criminal Court. According to the source, Bayat’s wife, Nahid, is not in good health to inquire about her husband’s legal case.

Bayat faces legal proceedings in both the Criminal and Revolutionary Courts. Reports obtained by HRANA indicate that the majority of the board of judges in the Criminal Court convicted Bayat of “insulting the prophet of Islam, Shia Imams, and other Islamic sanctities through the publication of pictures and posts on social media.”

This verdict contradicts the earlier decision by a minority panel, which commuted Bayat’s sentence to six months in prison after he expressed remorse. The verdict can be appealed within 20 days of its issuance.

Notably, the Shahriar Public and Revolutionary Court initially had jurisdiction over this legal case and closed this case. However, due to the insistence of the Shahriar prosecutor, the court transferred the case to the Tehran Criminal Court.

Shahriar Bayat’s legal troubles began on September 25, 2022, when he was arrested by security forces during nationwide protests at his residence in the city of Shahriar and subsequently detained in the Great Tehran Penitentiary. He was later transferred to Evin Prison.

On March 1, 2023, the Shahriar Revolutionary Court sentenced Bayat to a total of 18 years in prison for various charges including “forming illegal groups to act against national security,” “assembly and collusion to act against national security,” “insulting the former and current Supreme Leader of Iran,” and “propaganda against the regime.” Pursuant to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, which mandates the enforcement of the harshest punishment in cases of multiple charges, Bayat’s sentence was initially ten years, later reduced to eight years and six months following his request for a reduction in punishment.

In July-August 2023, in a letter addressed to the judiciary, Bayat wrote about his imprisonment at the age of 63, emphasizing his lack of prior political activism and attributing his incarceration solely to content found on his cell phone, much of which he claimed was commonplace on the internet. He also highlighted his denial of medical care for digestive diseases during his detention in the Great Tehran Penitentiary.

Gonabadi Dervish Arash Moradi Arrested in Kashan

On October 17, Arash Moradi, a Gonabadi Dervish, was arrested by security forces in Kashan and promptly taken to an undisclosed facility.

A source with close ties to his family has informed HRANA that Moradi’s arrest unfolded at his place of work, where the agents conducted a search and confiscated some of his personal belongings.
The motivations behind Moradi’s arrest, his current whereabouts, and the specific charges brought against him remain shrouded in uncertainty.
Moradi was previously detained during the 2018 Dervish protests and subsequently sentenced to one year in prison. After serving his sentence, Moradi was released from the Great Tehran Penitentiary.
This development takes place against the backdrop of a broader pattern of suppression and persecution faced by the Gonabadi Dervish community in Iran, who have long struggled against government restrictions on their religious practices and their peaceful expressions of dissent.

Former Political Prisoner Reza Nowruzi Arrested

On September 7, 2023, Reza Nowruzi, a former political prisoner, was apprehended by security forces and taken to an undisclosed location.

Breaking this development, his attorney, Erfan Karam Veisi, confirmed: “Nowruzi was arrested at his residence by security forces.”

The identity of the security institution responsible for Nowruzi’s arrest, as well as details about his current whereabouts and the charges against him, remain unknown at this time.

Previously, Nowruzi had been arrested by security forces in Tehran in April-May 2021. Subsequently, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to ten years in prison, with five years of that sentence being enforceable. This verdict was upheld upon appeal.

On May 27, 2023, Nowruzi was granted early release from the Great Tehran Penitentiary. However, during his incarceration, in August 2022, he was charged with “disturbing prison order,” resulting in a fine and a sentence of 74 lashes.

In June 2023, he was summoned to Evin Courthouse to face further penalties related to his legal case.

Nowruzi, approximately 33 years of age and hailing from Sarab, is a father of two children.

Mohsen Sepehri Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Mohsen Sepehri has been handed a five-year prison sentence by the Tehran Revolutionary Court. Sepehri was apprehended during the 2022 nationwide protests in Tehran and subsequently transferred to the Great Tehran Penitentiary following interrogations.

Judge Iman Afshari issued the verdict, ruling that Sepehri was found guilty of “assembly and collusion against national security,” resulting in a five-year sentence. An informed source, speaking to HRANA, revealed that Sepehri was denied access to legal representation throughout the entirety of the legal proceedings.

Background on the 2022 Nationwide Protests

The arrest of Mahsa Amini by Tehran Morality Police for her improper hejab and her suspicious death on September 16 sparked protests sweeping across Iran. Protesters came to the streets with the central slogan “Women, Life, Freedom” in protest against the performance, laws and structure of the regime. During the nationwide protests, thousands of people, including journalists, artists, lawyers, teachers, students and civil rights activists, were arrested.


Three Political Prisoners Beaten by Prison Officials in Great Tehran Penitentiary

On May 25, 2023, political prisoners Meysam Dehbanzadeh, Reza Nowrouzi and Majid Roshan-Nejad were beaten by prison officers at Great Tehran Penitentiary.

On May 25, 2023, Meysam Dehbanzadeh, Reza Nowrouzi, and Majid Roshan-Nejad, political prisoners at Great Tehran Penitentiary, were subjected to a violent beating by prison officials.

Their legal representative, Erfan Karam Veisi, reported, “Yesterday, at approximately 11 am, my clients were assaulted by six prison guards in Ward Type 5. Dehbanzadeh endured repeated strikes from batons on his head and body. He was then shackled to a bar for an entire day. Despite his injuries, the prison infirmary only provided him with a pill and refused proper medical attention. Currently, he is held in another ward.

On May 3, 2023, they were transferred from Rajai Shahr Prison to Great Tehran Penitentiary. These prisoners had previously faced an attack from a violent crime prisoner on May 10, 2023.

Nowrouzi is presently serving a five-year sentence and received an additional punishment of 74 lashes and a fine in August 2022, for “disturbing prison order.”

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Mohsen Ghoreishi Imprisoned in Great Tehran Penitentiary

On April 19, Mohsen Ghoreishi, arrested amid the 2019–2020 Iranian protests, was imprisoned in Great Tehran Penitentiary to start serving his three-and-a-half-year sentence.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Mohsen Ghoreishi was arrested in Shahriar County, Tehran province, and imprisoned in Great Tehran Penitentiary to start serving his sentence.

The Shahriar Revolutionary Court previously sentenced Ghoreishi to five years for “assembly and collusion against national security.” This verdict was reduced to three years and six months on appeal.

Security forces arrested Ghoreishi on November 20, 2019, amid the nationwide protests and released him after one month until the end of legal proceedings.

About 2019–2020 Iranian protests

In November 2019, an increase in fuel prices sparked a wave of protests in dozens of cities across the country. The spokesperson of the Parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Seyed Hossein Taghavi, announced that 7000 people were arrested during these protests. According to reports from human rights organizations, hundreds were killed by the security apparatus.


Hadi Mirzaie Still in Detention for about Four Months

Hadi (Abbas) Mirzaie is still detained for about four months in the Great Tehran Penitentiary with an unclear status of due process.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Hadi Mirzaie, a Master’s student in music at the Tehran University of Art, is still detained for about four months.

An informed source told HRANA, “Mirzaie is still jailed in the Great Tehran Penitentiary, awaiting processing.”
On December 10, 2022, security forces arrested Mirzaie near his office in Tehran. On January 11, 2023, he was transferred to the Great Tehran Penitentiary.

Student Hadi (Abbas) Mirzaie is an electrical engineering graduate at Shahid Beheshti University, a Master’s student in music at the Tehran University of Art, and an expert in stamps and banknotes.



Prisoners in the Great Tehran Penitentiary Facing Delay and Difficulties in Receiving Medical Care

The Great Tehran Penitentiary officials regularly delay the issuance of permits for medical treatment, putting prisoners’ health at risk. This report sheds light on the violation of prisoners’ health-related rights in this prison and the negative impacts on inmates’ health conditions.

An inmate, recently freed from this prison, explained to HRANA the lengthy process of requesting a permit for medical care: “to receive a permit for medical care, the prison infirmary physician has to deliver a request letter to the Judgement Enforcement Unit. If approved, this unit sends a request letter to Judicial Deputy and the latter to the assistant prosecutor. This process takes a long time resulting in the exacerbation of inmates’ health condition and subsequent denial of medical treatment.”

“In addition to the long process, sometimes the request letters were missing, which frequently happens during the correspondence among prison officials,” another inmate stated.

Asadollah Hadi, Davood Razavi, Shahriar Bayat and Zartosht Ahmadi Ragheb are among the inmates who suffered medical issues due to the prison officials’ delays and impediments.

According to reports obtained by HRANA, in recent days, political prisoner Asadollah Hadi was taken to the prison infirmary. Despite that, only after many twists and turns did the prison officials agree to dispatch him to a hospital outside the prison. Hadi has 60% physical disability and underwent heart surgeries during the last few years. Nonetheless, prison officials still delay medical treatments.

Another inmate, 20-year-old Amir-Hossein Ghena’atgar, who was arrested during the nationwide protests, is in poor health condition and has been denied medical care. In this regard, an informed source told HRANA, “he has been injured in eyes, neck, arm and chest by pellet guns. Despite having an infection from the pellets still in his body, he has been denied adequate medical care.”

In 2022, the Department of Statistics of Human Rights Activists in Iran registered 4,322 deprivation of medical care and 20 deaths due to illness.

According to Articles 102 and 113 of the Executive Regulations of the Iranian Prisons Organization, the prison infirmary is obliged to perform the medical examination of prisoners at least once a month, which in practice happens rarely. Also, in a case where medical treatment is not possible inside prison, with permission from the head of the prison and supervising judge, the inmate can be dispatched to a hospital as soon as possible. The rules unfortunately do not exempt emergency cases from the judge’s permission, causing unnecessary delays and jeopardizing the inmate’s lives.

About 550 Jailed Protestors Held in Poor Conditions in Great Tehran Penitentiary

Ward 3, Type 6 of the Great Tehran Penitentiary, currently houses around 500 individuals who were arrested during the nationwide protests of 2022. This ward is overcrowded, and inmates suffer from poor living conditions, including unhealthy drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient food portions. Additionally, prison officials are not returning prisoners’ belongings upon their release, causing further distress.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, about 550 individuals arrested during the 2022 nationwide protests are held in poor conditions in Great Tehran Penitentiary.

They are held in Ward 3, Type 6, which is twice its intended capacity.
According to one family member of an inmate, “this ward has about 250 beds, and more than half of the inmates have to sleep on the floor.”
In addition to the lack of sleeping accommodations, prison officers do not provide any toiletries, and inmates must purchase these items from the overpriced prison store.
Another inmate’s family member expressed concern about the poor quality of drinking water, saying that “inmates have to purchase water from the prison store” and that “meals are also of low quality and insufficient.”

Furthermore, released prisoners are not receiving their personal belongings back, such as wristwatches and cell phones, and inquiries about these items have gone unanswered. One prisoner, who was recently released, reported this issue to HRANA.

Update on Political Prisoner Mehdi Meskinnavaz’s Condition

Political prisoner Mehdi Meskinnavaz is currently serving his seven-and-a-half-year sentence at Great Tehran Penitentiary. He has recently faced a new legal case while in prison.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, political prisoner Mehdi Meskinnavaz faced new charges while in prison.

An informed source told HRANA, “this new legal case is related to incidents during his incarceration in Rajai-Shahr Prison. On March 14, the court held a session addressing the charges. Meskinnavaz refused to appear at the court in protest against unfair due process.”

On January 30, 2023, Meskinnavaz was relocated from Rajai Shahr Prison to Ward 209 of Evin Prison. Meanwhile, intelligence agents arrested his 17-year-old daughter, Asal Meskinnavaz. After 14 days, Meskinnavaz was transferred to Great Tehran Penitentiary.

On May 5, 2019, security forces arrested Meskinnavaz in Bandar Anzali for “running a Telegram channel advocating the overthrow of the regime.”

In August 2019, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced Meskinnavaz to 13 years for “assembly and collusion to act against national security, insulting the Supreme Leader of Iran, and Propaganda against the regime.” He was also banned from membership in political parties and groups and two-year compulsory residence in exile in Fahraj, Kerman. Applying Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, seven years and six months in prison for one charge was enforceable.