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Wife of Man Imprisoned for Facebook Posts Loses Job After Pressure From IRGC

CHRI - Every day something bad is happening to him."

Nastaran Naimi, the wife of Soheil Arabi, who was imprisoned in Iran for his Facebook posts, was fired after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pressured her employer, according to Arabi.

"My wife was fired about 10 days ago when they warned the employer to get rid of her," Arabi wrote, referring to the IRGC's Intelligence Organization, in a letter from Evin Prison on September 14, 2017.

Arabi's fellow inmates are also being pressured to cease taking paid language classes with him in the prison.

"I had a small income from teaching foreign languages to prisoners, but the authorities told the prisoners they would get into trouble if they spoke to me because I was convicted of crimes against the state," he added in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Arrested in 2013 by the IRGC's Sarallah Headquarters, Arabi, 32, is serving a seven and a half year prison sentence for allegedly "insulting the prophet" in comments he posted on Facebook that were critical of the Islamic Republic and some senior officials.

He has been on hunger strike since August 24, 2017, to protest the IRGC's campaign of harassment against his family.

"I have forgiven all the injustices against myself, but I can never stay silent in the face of your constant and unjust harassment of my family," wrote Arabi in a letter from prison in August 2017.

"I will go on hunger strike to demand that all charges be dropped against my mother-in-law and my dearest wife Nastaran Naimi," he added.

New Charges

Arabi has also been slapped with the new charges of "propaganda against the state" and "insulting the sacred and the supreme leader," which were brought by the IRGC. If convicted, he could be kept behind bars for several more years.

He wife has also been charged with 'propaganda against the state' for her Facebook posts. She was arrested on July 31 and questioned for a week about her social media posts in defense of her husband and about the alleged interviews she gave to foreign media.

"It's a crying shame that the state feels threatened by the few critical articles and photos we posted," wrote Arabi in his September 14 letter.

A source close to the Arabi family told CHRI on September 15 that he had become very weak from refusing food for three weeks. His blood pressure has dropped and he has lost weight, added the source.

"So far the hunger strike has not given results," said the source, on the condition of anonymity. "The investigators are putting more and more pressure on him. Not only has his wife been fired from work, but the person who offered his property deed to bail her out of detention is suddenly asking for his deed back."

"Every day something bad is happening to him and his family, and they all point to IRGC's hand," the source told CHRI.

Arabi was sentenced to death in October 2015 for allegedly "insulting the prophet" in comments he posted on Facebook, but upon appeal his sentence was reduced to seven and a half years in prison and two years of religious studies to prove his repentance, as well as a two-year ban from traveling abroad.