Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli-Zare', jailed for insulting religious entities in Arak prison, were transferred to solitary confinement, raising fears they face execution.
Rights groups expressed concern and launched a twitter campaign in support of the duo, saying they were transferred in preparation for execution, as is customary in Iran.
Mehrad, father of three, and Fazeli-Zare' were arrested in May 2020 over blasphemy-related charges after authorities accused them and five others of being a member of a Telegram channel entitled "Critique of Superstition and Religion." Members of the group reportedly expressed opinions about Islam and its Prophet Muhammad that were deemed insulting by the Islamic Republic.
Mehrad, who was then transferred to Arak Prison from his hometown Ardabil, was apparently held in solitary confinement for two months and was denied family visits and phone calls, for which he went on hunger strike.
In April 2021, Branch 1 of the Arak Criminal Court sentenced Mehrad and Fazeli-Zare' to death for "insulting Islamic sanctities" and "insulting the Prophet".
In June 2021, the Arak Revolutionary Court reportedly sentenced Mehrdad to eight years in prison in a separate criminal case for "propaganda against the state", "founding or leading an organization that aims to disrupt national security", and “insulting the Supreme Leader”.