Ahmad Ghassaban

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Tehran authorities arrested these three Amirkabir University of Technology students following distribution of newsletters carrying articles deemed insulting to Islam, according to news reports. The students said they had no involvement in the publications. They said a hard-line conservative student group fraudulently used the names and logos of legitimate student publications as a dirty trick, news reports said.

In October, a Tehran Revolutionary Court found all three students guilty of propaganda against the regime and insulting the supreme leader, according to AUTNews, the Web site of the Islamic Student Association at Amirkabir University. Defense lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told AUTNews that the court sentenced Ghassaban, managing editor of the student newspaper Sahar, to 30 months in prison; Tavakoli, managing editor of the student paper Khat-e Sefer, to three years; and Mansouri, a cartoonist accused of drawing insulting caricatures, to two years.

All three appealed the verdict. Dadkhah said they still faced charges in criminal court of insulting the Prophet Muhammad and Islamic principles, AUTNews reported. The students were subjected to torture during interrogations, according to news reports quoting
their families.

The students–all members of the reformist Islamic Student Association–said the fraudulent publications were designed to disrupt the group’s annual campus election. They claimed that student members of the Basij–a militia affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, an elite unit under the supreme leader’s control–were behind the bogus newsletters, according to AUTNews. Immediately following distribution of the newsletters, the Basij attacked the publications and their activist leaders, according to online sources.