Citizen journalist, blogger.
Insulting the Prophet Muhammad
Spreading propaganda against the holy Islamic Republic
Three years and death sentence
“Soheil had eight Facebook pages under different names, and he was charged with insulting the Imams and the Prophet because of the contents of those pages. He has accepted his charges, but throughout the trial, he stated that he wrote the material without thinking and in a poor psychological condition.”
Soheil Arabi, 30, father to a 5-year old daughter, set up a Facebook page on August 8, 2012 to post his thoughts on current political and social events. Then in November 2013, agents from the Cyber Unit of the Revolutionary Guards arrested him and his wife and took them to Ward 2A at Evin Prison, which is controlled by the Guards. His wife was released several hours later but he was kept in solitary confinement for two months. Soheil Arabi was put on trial in two separate cases. In the first, he was accused of insulting Prophet Mohammad, which carries a death sentence under Islamic Republic laws.
He was tried on August 30, 2014 at Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court presided by Judge Khorasani who sentenced him to death. His other case was tried at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati in which he was sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the Supreme Leader and propaganda against the regime.
“Soheil had eight Facebook pages under different names, and he was charged with insulting the Imams and the Prophet because of the contents of those pages,” a source told International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “He has accepted his charges, but throughout the trial, he stated that he wrote the material without thinking and in poor psychological condition.”
The source added that the Tehran Penal Court issued its ruling without regard for Article 264 of the Islamic Penal Code. “Article 262 of the Islamic Penal Code states that if a person insults the Prophet of Islam, his punishment is death. But in Article 264, it explicitly says that if a suspect merely claims in court that he said the insulting words in anger, in quoting someone, or by mistake, his death sentence will be changed to 74 lashes. I would like to emphasize that if only the suspect claims this, he will not be eligible for death, and there is no need to even prove his claim.”
His family has remained silent. A source told the media that his family is under pressure from security forces to refrain from talking to the press. According to the Facebook page of one of Arabi’s friends, his daughter Rouzhan is taken every Monday to visit her father in prison.
“She thinks that her father has to work a 24-hour job for a while so he can buy nice things for Rouzhan,” writes the friend. “She doesn’t understand the meaning of dirty windows, loudspeaker and waiting in line.”
In November 2014, Branch 41 of the Supreme Court upheld Arabi’s death sentence and referred his case to the county Execution Office, Branch 76 of the Penal, according to a report of the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
The case was sent back to Branch 34 of the Supreme Court where Arabi’s death sentence was overturned in June 2015, HRANA reported. Mr. Meshkani, Sohail Arabi’s solicitor, on June 27, 2015, confirmed the news and told HRANA’s reporter: “I am very happy with Branch 34 of the Supreme Court’s tact, my client’s death sentence was overturned and his case was sent to a lower court branch.”
According to HRANA, Soheil's case has now been sent back to court to be tried on September 1, 2015. Arabi’s lawyer, Amirsalar Davoodi, in an interview with HRANA said:
“After the death sentence of Soheil Arabi was denied in branch number 34 of the Supreme Court, with chief judge Eslami, the file has been sent to branch number 10 of penal court and the submission to court has been received, dated for September 1.”
Arabi is currently kept in Ward 350 of Evin prison.