By Maryam Sinaiee
April 28, 2020
A court of appeals has upheld a one-year jail sentence for a novelist for publishing a novel in France two years ago to avoid censorship in Iran, and publishing articles in a Netherlands-based website.
According to an announcement by his brother, the Revolutionary Court of Tehran that passed the one-year jail sentence, had also found the novelist Hamid Namjoo guilty for having contact with him. Hamid Namjoo’s brother Mohsen Namjoo is a well-known artist living in self-exile in New York City.
The 60-year-old novelist and literary critic was arrested in 2018 on charges of “waging propaganda against the Islamic Republic” but was released from prison on bail after three months. The court said his socio-political novel called Spartacus which he had published in France defended the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also MEK), staunch opponent of the Iranian regime.
The MKO and its members have been persecuted in Iran since 1981. The group was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in 1997 but was delisted in 2012.
The famous New York-based dissident musician and singer Mohsen Namjoo, the novelist’s brother, was tried in absentia and sentenced to five years in prison in 2009 for a song that the court said insulted “Islamic sanctities”.
Insulting the Prophet of Islam and other forms of “blasphemy” are punishable by death in Iran while insulting the twelve Imams and the daughter of the Prophet can be punished by five year’s imprisonment according to the country’s Islamic Penal Code.
Iranian authors, musicians and other artists are often denied permission to publish their work or perform in public. Receiving the required permits to publish a book, screen a film or display artwork is often a very lengthy process. The Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry which oversees the work of artists often mutilates literary work or the script of films and plays very aggressively.