A British woman has been locked up in Iran for five months after posting derogatory comments about the country's government on Facebook and fears she will be executed.
Concerns are growing for the welfare of Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, from Stockport, who has been charged with insulting Islamic sanctities , a crime which can be punishable by death. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was urgently
looking into her case.
Mrs Nobakht was in Iran visiting family in October last year when she was arrested by police as she arrived by plane in the south western city of Shiraz, according to an account given by her husband, Daryoush Taghipoor.
She was then taken back to Tehran and charged with gathering and participation with intent to commit crime against national security and insulting Islamic sanctities , according to a copy of her charge sheet seen by The Independent .
Mr Taghipoor, who is currently in Iran, claimed that his wife's arrest was over comments she had made on a Facebook group about the government being too Islamic , and that she had only been charged after a confession was extracted from her under duress
Eight people, including an Iranian-born British woman, have been jailed in Iran on charges including blasphemy and insulting the country's
supreme leader on Facebook.
The opposition website Kaleme reported that two of the eight, identified as Roya Saberinejad Nobakht from Stockport, and Amir Golestani, each received 20 years in prison and the remaining six between 7 and 19 years.
They were variously found guilty of blasphemy, propaganda against the ruling system, spreading lies and insulting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nobakht's husband, Daryoush Taghipoor, told the Manchester Evening News in April that his wife had been detained at the airport in Shiraz last October in connection with comments she had made on Facebook.
A man in Iran has been sentenced to death for supposedly insulting the religious character, Mohammed on Facebook.
Soheil Arabi, a 30-year-old blogger, was convicted in August after admitting posting supposedly offensive material on eight Facebook pages, under different names.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Arabi now faces imminent execution by hanging after the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director of the rights group, siad:
It is simply shocking that anyone should face the gallows simply because of Internet postings that are deemed to be crude, offensive, or insulting. Iran should urgently revise its penal code to eliminate provisions that criminalise peaceful free
expression, especially when they punish its exercise with death.
An Arabic Facebook page
to protest the decision has been set up, and now has more than 2,400 likes, but so far Iran is holding firm with the sentence.
Two members of the Iranian heavy metal band Confess are being held for blasphemy after they were arrested by the state's religious guard and accused of writing satanic music.
Nikan Siyanor Khosravi and Khosravi Arash Ilkhani are believed to have been arrested and jailed on November 10. Held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison by the Revolutionary Guards until February 5, the pair wrote and released their own heavy metal
albums and ran a record label. Extreme punishments are available for the prosecuting authorities
Their latest album, released in October, included tracks named Teh-Hell-Ran and I'm Your God Now , both of which would likely rankle with the state's hardline Islamic leadership.
Tara Sepehri Far, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, told MailOnline the pair likely faced up to five years in prison. She said it was likely they would be facing insulting sacred beliefs charges, as other musicians had been in the past,
rather than insulting the prophet , which is punishable by death. She added:
Iranian musicians, especially the ones who play non-classical western music, are navigating a minefield. Due to severe censorship, most of these groups are performing underground.
Anything from the content of their lyrics to the style of the music they play might violate unwritten regulations that musicians are expected to adhere to by various authorities.
Social media accounts of those close to the band expressed concern about the pair's plight, and included messages of support and the sharing of the #freeconfess hashtag.
Help Free CONFESS they were arrested by the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and are facing charges of blasphemy, advertising against the system, running an illegal and underground band and record label promoting music considered
to be Satanic writing anti-religious lyrics and granting interviews to forbidden foreign radio stations.