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Iran: Journalists Threatened by Email “You Will be Punished”

Reliable sources, including one Iranian journalist, have told Global Voices that several Iranian activists and journalists have received an email threatening that they will be punished according to the “Islamic Punishment” law of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The subject of the email is “warning” [hoshdar in Persian] and the message says they have information and documents that implicates a list of people who are working actively “for the goals of foreigners” and who support seditious activity. The sender of the email is anonymous.

A screenshot of the email's subject line and sender with the body blacked out

A screenshot of the email's subject line and sender with the body blacked out. Source: Global Voices


The email in Persian says:

هشدار: بر اساس اطلاعات و اسناد بدست آمده، لیست برخی از ایمیل ها و اسامی مختلف فعال در راستای اهداف بیگانگان و حمایت از فتنه گران شناسایی گردیده که ایمیل شما نیز در لیست مدنظر وجود دارد.
لذا در صورت اصرار بر فعالیت غیر قانونی، برابر مواد 498، 499 و 510 قانون مجازات اسلامی، تحت پیگرد قرار خواهید گرفت.

Your email is on the list. If you continue your illegal activity, you will be punished in accordance with articles 498,499,510 of the Islamic Punishment Law.

These articles [fa] refer to crimes against the country's security.

According to article 498, anybody who organises a group with more than two people who aims to disturb a country's security will be jailed from two to ten years. Article 499 says any member of this group can face three months to five years in jail. Article 510 says people who hide spies who want to hurt country with the help of an enemy, can face from six months to three years of jail.

The email is intended to provoke fear, but has no signature. One recipient demonstrated to Global Voices that the email was sent from an anonymous Live.com email account (breaking_news@live.com) a Microsoft email service.

Iranians know to be concerned of violations of their online privacy. On September 2011, A growing number of Iranian bloggers expressed their anxieties after learning that their Gmail inboxes may have been an open book for the Iranian state to read and target dissidents for two months.

In 2011, people who once sent SMS mobile phone messages to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian service, received a threatening message:

“Dear citizen, based on information we received you have fallen under the influence of the anti-security propaganda of media connected with foreign powers.

“If you establish contact with media based outside the country, you will be guilty of violating the following articles of Islamic law (…) and we will deal with you according to the law.”

Today it is threatening email, yesterday it was an SMS text. But the message is the same: To sow fear and reap inaction.

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