Three Sunni youth begin prison sentences

HRANA News Agency – Three Sunni men from Iran’s Turkmen minority convicted of charges including ‘insulting the Supreme Leader (Khamenei)’ were detained yesterday to begin serving their 23 month prison sentences.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Nematollah Kami, Danial Babayani and Habibollah Beigzadeh were detained and transferred to Gonbad Prison near Minudasht in northern Iran yesterday.

The three men were each sentenced to 23 months imprisonment by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Gonbade Kavous, Golestan province on 10 December 2013. Their sentences were confirmed by the Court of Appeals in Golestan.

A fourth man, Abdol Nasser Khormali, was ordered to receive lashes and pay a fine.

The four men were arrested in September 2013 by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in the Golestan province of Iran in relation to their activities on the internet, especially on the Facebook social media website.

They were convicted of ‘insulting the Supreme Leader (Khamenei)’, ‘insulting the Shia Imams’, ‘insulting the leadership’, ‘having a satellite receiver’ and ‘spreading propaganda against the state’.

One of the men’s relatives told the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), “at the time of their arrest, the detainees were subjected to abuse and torture, in order for [intelligence officers] to obtain their Facebook login details.”

“The Hajj pilgrimage CDs and family photo albums that were discovered were recorded in the prisoner’s cases as ‘obscene photos’. Accordingly, the sentences against them were issued,” the source said.

According to the HRANA, officials from the Ministry of Intelligence told the men during their interrogation that if they converted from Sunni Islam to Shi’ism, they would ‘escape a prison sentence’.

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