Iran imprisons two award-winning science students for 16 years

The regime "beat them and held them in prolonged solitary confinement in harsh conditions to extract forced confessions."

 IRAN’S SUPREME LEADER Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran earlier this month.  (photo credit: OFFICIAL KHAMENEI WEBSITE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
IRAN’S SUPREME LEADER Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran earlier this month.
(photo credit: OFFICIAL KHAMENEI WEBSITE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The Revolutionary Court of Tehran sentenced two elite science students – Ali Younesi and Amir Hossein Moradi from Sharif University of Technology – to sixteen-year prison sentences for their alleged opposition to the theocratic state.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency first reported on the sentence on Monday and said the two award-winning science students were charged with ”spreading corruption on earth, assembly and collusion against the regime, and propaganda against the regime.”

In April 2020, Iranian regime security forces arrested Younesi and Moradi and imposed violence on the students during their seizure, according to HRANA. The authorities did not issue warrants and the students were incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

The news agency said that on May 5, 2020, the spokesman of the judiciary accused Younesi and Moradi of collaboration with "The People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (the Mujahedin-e-Khalq or MEK).”

HRANA added that, “However, in a video record circulating on social media, Ayda Younesi, Ali Younesi’s sister, denied such an accusation. In September of 2020, she revealed that her brother had been under pressure to make a TV confession. In November of that year, Ali Younsei contracted COVID-19 in prison.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran April 18, 2022. (credit: PRESIDENT WEBSITE/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran April 18, 2022. (credit: PRESIDENT WEBSITE/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY)/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Amnesty International said in 2021 that “The authorities violated their [Moradi and Younesi's] right to be presumed innocent by publicly accusing them of ties to ‘counterrevolutionary’ groups apparently based on their families’ real or perceived association” with the MEK.

Reza Younesi, Ali’s brother, told the US government news organization Radio Farda there was “no evidence to convict them.”

Amnesty further noted in 2021 that students who had been “arbitrarily detained without trial in section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison since 10 April 2020, are at risk of being convicted in a grossly unfair trial of a spurious charge that carries the death penalty. Ministry of intelligence agents beat them and held them in prolonged solitary confinement in harsh conditions to extract forced ‘confessions. They are prisoners of conscience targeted for exercising their right to family life.”

Moradi won the silver medal in the National Astronomy Olympiad in 2017. Younesi won the gold medal that year and the silver medal at the 2016 Olympiad. Younesi also secured a gold medal at the 12th World Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad in China.

Separately, Behnam Mousivand, an Iranian human rights activist, launched a hunger strike to protest the Islamic Republic of Iran's mistreatment of Iranian prisoners