British Woman Faces 20 Years In Iranian Jail For Facebook Comments About Country’s Leadership


A British woman has reportedly been sentenced to 20 years in a hellhole Iranian prison for posting comments on Facebook allegedly criticising the country’s leadership.

Roya Nobakht, 47, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was arrested last October when she was visiting the south-western city of Shiraz.

She was accused of gathering crowds, putting national security at risk and insulting Islam after criticising former Iranian supreme leader the Ayatollah Khomeini on the social media site.

She is thought to have described the government as being ‘too Islamic’.

Ms Nobakht had been held at the notorious Evin prison in the Iranian capital Tehran before being sentenced earlier this week.

It had been feared that Ms Nobakht could have faced the death penalty.

The part-time student at Stockport College has dual British-Iranian nationality and has been living with her husband for more than six years.

A source close to the family said: “Roya is devastated. She is not doing well.

“She is just a housewife and is not an activist. She has said she would rather die than be there for 20 years.

“She has been tortured and the conditions at the prison are terrible. She is under a lot of pressure.

“They have taken confession under duress that she has said something against the Iranian republic.”

Mrs Nobakht, who is among eight people jailed in Iran this week on charges of insulting the country’s leadership on Facebook, had been on a three-week holiday to Iran last year to visit friends and family.

A family friend said her husband, Daryoush Taghipoor, 47, had gone to meet her from Manchester Airport but she did not appear.

He spent two months in Iran searching mortuaries, hospitals and police stations.

He was eventually told his wife was in prison because she had not been respectful of Iran and he was allowed to visit her for 10 minutes.

Mr Taghipoor has not returned to Iran for fear of being arrested himself.

Negotiations between the UK and Iranian governments have been complicated since the British embassy in Tehran closed following the 2011 attacks by Iranian protesters.

Andrew Stunnell, MP for Hazel Grove, who has been fighting the family’s cause, said: “Unfortunately the Iranian justice system is pretty incomprehensible to us in the Western world.

“What we regard as fundamental human rights are regarded as crimes and Roya is in the midst of it.

“It’s absolutely preposterous. The Iranians have pounced on her and charged her with offences which would be laughed out of court here but they have gone on to impose an outrageously large sentence.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware that a British national has received a custodial sentence in Iran.

“We are seeking to establish the full facts and are following up the case with the Iranian authorities.”

The case is the latest in a growing row over internet freedom in Iran. Last week six young Iranians were arrested after they posted a video online of their version of Pharrell William’s song Happy.