Iran: Satirist sentenced to 23 years in prison because of ‘contact with U.S. enemy state’

8 November 2019
To present an image of Keyomars Marzban.
Image: Keyomars Marzban / Keyomars Marzban on Facebook


On 13 October, the appeals court upheld satirist Keyomars Marzban’s sentence of 23 years and nine months of imprisonment for his peaceful writing contribution to websites funded by the United States, reported the Human Rights Activists News Agency.

The appeal hearing was convoked without Marzban’s presence.

In August 2019, Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Marzan, based on Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, to serve his sentence for the charge with the highest penalty.

Marzban will spend 11 years in prison for “contact with U.S. enemy state.” The other charges refer to “insulting the sacred”, “insulting the supreme leader”, “propaganda against the state”, and “insulting officials.”

The satirist was accused of writing for websites funded by the United States. Iranian law does not forbid citizens from writing for American websites but includes the possibility of prosecution for “collaborating” with the U.S. government by contributing to websites that are funded by the country.

“We did not receive any response to our appeal statement. For instance, he was charged with “cooperating with a hostile state” while even Iranian authorities consider the organization that he wrote for as a nonprofit organization,” Marzban lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi said to the Human Rights Activists News Agency.

Marzban’s case is another example of an increasing trend of states suppressing satirists for their peaceful artistic expression. Freemuse documented various cases of such a tendency with the experiences of the Zimbabwean satirist Samantha Kureya who was abducted and tortured because of her criticism of the government. We also urge all to sign this petition to release members of the satirical poetry group Peacock Generation. They were convicted to one year in prison under a law prohibiting the circulation of information that could endanger or demoralise members of the military.

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