Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned Tuesday Iran’s Supreme Court decision to uphold a criminal court ruling sentencing Soheil Arabi to death by hanging.
Arabi was sentenced over charges of “insulting the Muslim Prophet” on his personal Facebook page.
Arabi’s case has now been referred to the judiciary’s implementation branch, and if the decision is upheld, he will face execution. HRW quoted Arabi’s wife saying that he was arrested in November 2013 by intelligence, and was convicted with the charges in August 2014.
“It is simply shocking that anyone should face the gallows simply because of Internet postings that are deemed to be crude, offensive, or insulting,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
Goldstein added: “Iran should urgently revise its penal code to eliminate provisions that criminalise peaceful free expression.”
Arabi was jailed in Evin Prison, where he was subjected to long interrogation sessions and psychological pressure to confess, and prevented from meeting his lawyer, according to the HRW statement.
Arabi’s lawyer told HRW that the Supreme Court added another charge of “sowing corruption on earth”, to his client, which “forecloses the possibility of amnesty”.
Human rights organisations have been pressuring Iran’s government and penal institutions to revise its laws concerning death penalties.
Another Iranian, Mohsen Amir Aslani, was executed after being convicted of “corruption on earth”, a penalty which HRW previously condemned.
HRW said: “Under such law, authorities can prosecute, convict, and sentence political dissidents and others exercising their basic rights to freedom of speech, assembly, association, and religion.”
The Daily News Egypt tried to contact the Iranian embassy in Cairo, but was not able to receive a comment on the incident.