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Iran Activist Charged For Accusing State TV Reporter In Forced Confessions Case

Iranian labor activist Sepideh Qolian. FILE PHOTO
Iranian labor activist Sepideh Qolian. FILE PHOTO

Young Iranian civil rights activist, Ms. Sepideh Qolyan (Gholian), has said she was released on bail February 9 after being charged with "anti-Islamic Republic regime propaganda" and "disseminating fake news" in the third lawsuit filed against her.

The twenty-four-year-old Qolyan elaborated on her Twitter account that the prosecutor charged her with "propaganda against the regime" for publishing news about Iranian-Arab prisoners, and "disseminating false claims", for exposing a state-run reporter who had interrogated her.

Ms. Qolyan was released same day on a $43,000 bail bond.

In several tweets, on December 25, Sepideh Qolyan said she had sued the reporter, Ameneh Zabihpour, for her role in the production of a so-called documentary in which Qolyan and some other activists had to make self-incriminating confessions.

The documentary called "Failed Planning" was aired by the state broadcaster in January. In the film, Qolian "confessed" to shooting videos and photos in January 2018 protests and sending them to journalists outside Iran.

Thirteen human rights and civil society organizations on January 30 urged the European Union to adopt restrictive measures against Iran's state broadcaster (IRIB) and its officials for production and broadcast of forced confessions of dissidents, often used in court as incriminating evidence.

The Islamic Republic often resorts to broadcasting forced confessions of political activists and even social media celebrities considered to be threats to the establishment.

Sepideh Qolyan, a freelance journalist, was initially arrested on November 18, 2018, while reporting a labor protest organized by the Workers Union of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industrial Company in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, southwestern Iran.

The 24-year-old labor and rights activist was released on bail along with five other political prisoners on October 26, 2019, after going on dry-hunger strike to protest "unbearable" conditions at the notorious Qarchak prison where she was held.