The world’s youngest detained blogger, 18-year-old Navid Mohebbi, is currently being tried behind closed doors before a revolutionary court in the northern city of Amol. His lawyer is not being allowed to attend the trial, which began on 14 November.
Arrested at his home in Amol on 18 September by eight intelligence ministry officials, Mohebbi is facing the possibility of a long prison sentence. A women’s rights activist who keeps a blog called “The writings of Navid Mohebbi” (http://navidmohebbi3.blogfa.com/), he had been summoned and questioned several times by various intelligence services in the past year. He was beaten at the moment of his arrest and has been held in cell with ordinary offenders ever since.
Mohebbi has been accused of “activities contrary to national security” and “insulting the Islamic Republic’s founder and current leader (...) by means of foreign media.” He has also been accused of being member of the “One Million Signatures” movement, a campaign to collect signatures to a petition for changes to laws that discriminate against women.
One the movement’s leaders, Sussan Tahmassebi, who edits the English-language version of the “Change for Equality” website, received the Alison Des Forges award from Human Rights Watch on 16 November for her activities of behalf of human rights.
She told Reporters Without Borders: “I dedicate this prize to all the human rights activists and women’s rights activists in Iran, especially those who are currently in prison, hoping to be freed soon. This prize will given them encouragement.”
Mohebbi’s case is not isolated. Many Iranian netizens have been arrested, prosecuted or convicted. Ten of them are currently in prison in Iran. One of the detained bloggers is Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour, a cleric and editor of the “Silent Echo” website (http://www.pejvak-kh.com), who has been held since 27 December 2009 in the religious city of Qom.
He is serving a one-year sentence on charges of “disseminating false information attacking the government” and “discrediting the Shiite clergy.” He went on hunger strike last year in protest against his prison conditions and sent an open to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
Until Mohebbi’s arrest, the world’s youngest blogger in detention was the Syrian high school student Tal Al-Mallouhi, who was 18 when she was arrested on 27 December 2009 after responding to a summons from a Syrian intelligence agency. She is still being held by the intelligence agency although no charge has so far been brought against her.