Iranian judges have sentenced a young female writer to six years in prison for writing an unpublished story about the practice of stoning in the country.
Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a writer and human rights activist, is due to begin serving six years in prison on charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “spreading propaganda against the system,” Amnesty International reported.
Mrs Ebrahimi Iraee received a phone call on Tuesday ordering her to present herself to Evin Prison, Iran's most notorious prison, where her husband Arash Sadeghi is currently serving a 19-year sentence.
The first charge of five years was imposed in response to an unpublished fictional story she had written. The novel revolves around a young woman who gets so enraged when she watches The Stoning of Soraya M - the true story of a woman stoned to death for adultery - that she burns a copy of the Koran.
Amnesty International has called on Iranian authorities to repeal the conviction and sentence.
“The charges against Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee are ludicrous,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. "She is facing years behind bars simply for writing a story, and one which was not even published – she is effectively being punished for using her imagination."
Amnesty has denounced Mrs Ebrahimi Iraee's trial as "farcical," she was sentenced after two brief sessions by an Islamic Revolutionary Guards court in Tehran during which she had no legal representation.
She was not given the chance to speak in her own defence because the first session was focused on her husband’s activism, and at the second she was in hospital recovering from major surgery. The court rejected her request to adjourn a hearing, even when presented with medical records.
The story was discovered by authorities in September 2014 when Mrs Ebrahimi Iraee was arrested together with her husband at his workplace in Tehran by men believed to be Revolutionary Guards.
According to Amnesty the guards took the couple to their home and searched their possessions without providing an arrest warrant and seized laptops, notebooks and CDs.
Mr Sadegh was transferred to the Tehran prison and sentenced to 15 years for “spreading propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding against national security” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.”
According to Amnesty Mrs Ebrahimi Iraee was detained in a secret location in solitary confinement for three days without access to a lawyer or her family. During the following 17 days at Evin Prison she said she was interrogated for hours, blindfolded, and threatened with execution, while listening to her husband being slapped, kicked and choked in the next cell.
“Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s ‘trial’ was farcical. She was denied the right to a defence and her sentence was a foregone conclusion. This is just the latest example of the Iranian authorities’ utter contempt for justice and human rights,” said Mr Luther.
“We are urging the authorities to immediately quash Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee’s conviction and that of her husband Aresh Sadeghi, who has been behind bars since June for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association. The Iranian government is on the verge of stamping out a whole generation of young activists with its ruthless and repressive tactics.”
In Iran stoning is usually reserved for men and women found guilty of adultery. According to Iranian authorities it is consistent with an interpretation of Islamic Shari'a law and it is "effective in deterring crimes and protecting morality."
“Instead of imprisoning a young woman for peacefully exercising her human rights by expressing her opposition to stoning, the Iranian authorities should focus on abolishing this punishment, which amounts to torture. It is appalling that Iran continues to allow the use of stoning, and justifies it in the name of protecting morality,” said Mr Luther.