PEN is deeply concerned by the conviction and sentencing of journalist and blogger Marzieh Rasouli to imprisonment and flogging. Rasouli was summoned to Evin Prison on July 8, 2014 after being convicted of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “disturbing public order” and sentenced to two years in prison and 50 lashes. PEN believes Rasouli was imprisoned for practicing her right to free expression, and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release and for her sentence of flogging to be overturned immediately as it violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. 

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Background Information

Iran is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which prohibits arbitrary detention and protects the right to freedom of expression and the right to a fair trial. It also prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments.Journalist and blogger Marzieh Rasouli was first arrested in January 2012 along with two other prominent women journalists - Parastoo Dokouhaki and Sahamoldin Borghani – and held for six weeks in solitary confinement on national security charges. They are thought to have been accused of collaborating with the BBC's Persian service, broadcast by satellite, which is banned in the country. All three were released on bail in late February 2012.


The day before their release, a statement posted on the Gerdab website, run by the Revolutionary Guards’ Cyber-Crimes unit accused them of “collaborating with the BBC, British intelligence and the foreign-based opposition.” The Revolutionary Guards had announced that an operation code-named “Eye of the Fox” had led to the breakup of an information-gathering network that produced content for the BBC in Iran. On March 5, 2012, confessions of this operation’s victims – for the most part excerpts from their interrogations – were broadcast on national TV channels and relayed by Press TV, the Islamic Republic’s English-language station. Broadcasting such “confessions” prior to trial is common in Iran and violates Article 14.3(g) of the ICCPR, which protects the right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess guilt.


Rasouli was also briefly detained in January 2013, together with 18 other journalists working for reformist media outlets. In February 2014 Marzieh Rasouli and Parastoo Dokouhaki were both tried and convicted of "spreading propaganda against the state" and "disruption of public order." Dokouhaki reportedly received a suspended sentence, and Rasouli was sentenced to 50 lashes and two years in prison. She remained free on bail pending appeal, and the Court of Appeal upheld the sentence on July 2, 2014. On July 7, 2014 Rasouli wrote on her Twitter account that she had been sentenced to two years in prison and 50 lashes after being convicted of “spreading propaganda against the system” and "disturbing public order" as a result of her participation in peaceful assemblies and protests. She reported to prison on July 8 to serve out her sentence.
Rasouli is a well-known freelance journalist and blogger who writes on culture and the arts. Her work has previously appeared in a number of reformist publications such as Shargh, where she edited the newspaper's music pages, Etemaad and Roozegar. She also writes her own blog, 3rouzpish (Three Days Ago). In May 2014 Marzieh Rasouli contributed an article to a special Issue of The Dissident Blog, published by Swedish PEN, devoted to digital freedom.


Well over 20 writers are currently detained in Iran for the peaceful expression of their opinions and recent weeks have seen several journalists and filmmakers arrested and/or imprisoned, including journalist Saba Azarpeik, filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi, 11 staff members of Pat Shargh Govashir, a company that owns the popular Iranian technology news website Narenji and its sister sites, Nardebaan and Negahbaan, blogger Mehdi Khazali, and journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaei.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing concern at the conviction and sentencing of journalist and blogger Marzieh Rasouli to imprisonment and flogging;
  • Calling for her immediate and unconditional release, and that of all other writers currently similarly detained in Iran in connection with their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party;
  • Calling for her sentence of flogging to be overturned immediately as it violates the absolute prohibition in international law against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Send Your Letter To

Leader of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei

The Office of the Supreme Leader

Islamic Republic Street -- End of Shahid

Keshvar Doust Street,

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: info_leader@leader.ir

Twitter: @khamenei_ir

 

Head of the Judiciary

Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani

c/o Public Relations Office

Number 4, 2 Azizi Street intersection

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

 

President

Hassan Rouhani

Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Email: media@rouhani.ir

Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and

@Rouhani_ir (Persian)