YouTube is banned in Iran, but the country has its own counterpart video platform, Aparat, whose CEO and founder Mohammad Javad Shakouri Moghadam is now in serious trouble: he’s been sentenced to ten years in prison.
His crime? A video uploaded by a user last year that remained on the platform for an hour, that asked children if they “know how they were born.”
The content was found to be offending under the country’s laws that prohibit encouraging corruption and publishing vulgar content. The authors of the video were also arrested and seven of them have been sent to prison for 11 years each.
Aparat, which is said to have millions of users, states in its terms of service that content uploaded to the platform must conform to moral and Islamic norms and not incite political tensions.
All this is in keeping with Iran’s strict censorship rules, and while many thousands of websites are blocked in that country, those who do operate there can be held liable for third party content.
The sentence to Moghadam, who will have a chance to appeal it, was passed down by Revolutionary Court Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, reports are saying.
Moghiseh is one of the two Iranian judges the US State Department Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last year put on a blacklist for punishing Iranians and holders of dual citizenships for exercising freedom of expression or assembly.
The US accused the two judges of presiding over show trials that targeted activists, journalists, ethnic minorities, and others. According to OFAC, in addition to prison sentences, some of their rulings condemned defendants to lashing and even execution.
Moghiseh, in particular, is said to be responsible for unfair trials taking place in Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court – where Aparat’s Moghadam has been sentenced – while disregarding evidence in cases based on unsubstantiated charges.
The State Department mentioned in particular that in one of the trials overseen by Moghiseh, eight Iranian Facebook users were sentenced to a total of 127 years in prison for “anti-regime publicity and insults to religion.”