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Iran: Death Sentence for Man for 'insulting Islam' through messaging app

Iranian authorities have sentenced a 21 year old man to death for "insulting Islam" through messages he sent on an instant messenger app, when he was only 19.

Human rights lawyers claim that Sina Dehghan, was tricked into confessing to the breach of Islamic law by a promise of release. The Centre for Human Rights in Iran says that once they obtained his confession, prosecutors dropped the agreement and sentenced Dehghan to death in January this year.

The content of the messages is unknown.

A source claims: "During his interrogation, Sina was told that if he signed a confession and repented, he would be pardoned and let go. Unfortunately, he made a childish decision and accepted the charges. Then they sentenced him to death."

Allegedly, his family were told to keep quiet and he would likely to go free.

Prosecutors asked that Dehghan be sentenced to death for "insulting the prophet" as well as to 16 months in prison for 'insulting the supreme leader'.

The sentence has been upheld by the country's Supreme Court, but a request for a judicial review has given his family hope that his life might be spared.

His mother said, "According to Sina's lawyer, steps have been taken for a judicial review, and with the good news we're hearing from him, God willing this case will come to end positively as soon as possible."

Co-defendants Sahar Eliasi and Mohammad Nouri were also convicted of posting anti-Islamic material on social media. Nouri was issued a death sentence, the final ruling of is the Supreme Court remains unknown. Eliasi appealed his 7-year sentence, which was reduced to 3 years.

The Japanese-based messaging app, Line, has since added end-to-end encryption to its messages.

Dehghan is struggling to cope with the incarceration in Arak Prison, the source said, adding, "Sina is not feeling well. He's depressed and cried constantly. He's being held in a ward with drug convicts and murderers who broke his jaw a while ago. He was a 19-year-old boy at the time (of his arrest) and had never done anything wrong in his life."

Despite signing the UN convention on the rights of the child, Iran still attracts condemnation for carrying out executions of minors.

Iran's Islamic penal code makes insulting the prophet a crime punishable by death. Although there is a clause that states that if the insults were made by mistake, or were made in anger, the sentence may be reduced to 74 lashes.

Regarding Dehghan, Human Rights Organisation Article 19 said, "He is now on death row, yet the imminence of the execution of Sina is an affront both to international standards and Iran's own criminal code. "It is also clear that Sina was only given access to a court-appointed lawyer, who failed to adequately defend him in trial." And said further that Dehghan's case illustrates how the Iranian people are "at the mercy of a system where forced confessions, false promises, and threats to family members undermine not only national judicial processes, but the international standards Iran has signed up to."

"Iranian authorities have an opportunity to act to stop the execution, and to take visible steps to implement their own codes of practice. We ask simply that a review of the case be undertaken immediately and the death penalty dropped."

Source: irannewsupdate.com, April 2, 2017

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