Iran’s Judiciary said on Wednesday that arrested blogger Hossein Shanbehzadeh is a “fugitive Mossad agent” with a history of insulting religious figures and connections to Israeli intelligence.

Shanbehzadeh, the popular social media activist and proofreader, was arrested in Ardabil, northwestern Iran on Tuesday. The Ardabil prosecutor’s office claimed the individual “had a history of insulting Shia imams and was in contact with high-ranking Mossad officers.”

Refuting the accusations as “unjustifiable,” his family stated that he has always used his real identity on social media, and that the charges have been levelled against him 24 hours after his arrest, without him having access to a lawyer.

Shanbehzadeh, who posted a dot in response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s tweet last month, employing a sarcastic editorial tone, saw his comment receive considerably more likes than Khamenei’s original tweet.

In response to his arrest, numerous users voiced their outrage, linking it to a comment he made under an official post by Ali Khamenei last month, which gained significant traction.

Chess grandmaster and Putin critic Garry Kasparov responded to news of Hossein Shanbehzadeh’s arrest with a single dot on his X account.

A hashtag with his name in Persian has been tweeted over 57,000 times on X in the past few days.

One user wrote, “What information did Hossein have access to that he could spy on? Did he have missile or nuclear information? Why are you weaving nonsense…”

Human rights activist and former political prisoner Arash Sadeghi defined the crime of “espionage” under Islamic Republic law on X, writing: “The definition of the crime of espionage is that if a person provides classified information to people who are not authorized to access it, the act is espionage.” He continued, “How can you accuse an editor, writer, and satirist whose only platform was his Twitter page of espionage?”

Conversely, some cited Shanbehzadeh’s criticisms, including an exposé on Evin Prison’s harsh practices, suggesting his arrest stems from governmental ire towards his outspokenness.

Shanbehzadeh was previously imprisoned in connection with the 2019 protests, facing charges of “insulting the sanctities and the leader of the Islamic Republic.”

His arrest raises concerns about Iran’s history of using espionage charges against critics, including the case of Maziar Ebrahimi, a businessman falsely accused of spying for Israel who was later exonerated.

Ebrahimi was tortured to ‘confess’ that he had been spying for Israel and was involved in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in 2012. After releasing and allowing him to leave the country, Iran’s government said that he was innocent.

Source » iranintl