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British Woman Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht Held In Iran For 'Insulting Islam' On Facebook

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A British woman jailed in Iran fears she may be executed for insulting the Iranian government on Facebook, after she was arrested five months ago, accused of being a spy.

Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, from Stockport, was arrested as she stepped off a plane in the provincial city of Shiraz and accused of being a spy, her husband Daryoush Taghipoor told the Manchester Evening News.

The 47-year-old is being held on suspicion of plotting to commit crimes against security and insulting Islam. Taghipoor said it is over comments she made on Facebook about the Iranian government being "too Islamic".

evin prison

An Iranian female prisoner prays in her cell, in the Evin prison in Tehran, Iran

The charge is "insulting Islamic sanctities", which can carry the death penalty. She is being held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, where several political prisoners have been held.

Roya, an English student at Stockport College, is a naturalised British citizen who had gone to visit family in Iran in October. Two weeks into her trip, she took an internal flight to Shiraz to see a friend, and was arrested.

Taghipoor told the paper his wife had lost three stone due to stress.

“It’s a very bad situation. We don’t know what’s going on. Roya is not well at all. She has lost three stone and is frightened. She is scared that the government will kill her.”

Roya travelled to Tehran to see family in October last year. About two weeks into the trip she flew to Shiraz to visit a friend and was arrested at the airport.

“Roya is not a political activist in any way. She is just a normal citizen. The authorities don’t clarify why she has been arrested and Daryoush insists the charges are based on a confession extracted from Roya under duress.

"The government needs to do all that us feasible to get the release of this innocent British citizen.”

The British Embassy is closed in Iran, after the building was attacked by protesters in 2011, but the Foreign Office told the Independent newspaper it is "urgently" looking into her case.

Amnesty International's Iran researcher Bahareh Davis said: "If Roya Saberi Nejad Nobakht has been held solely for peacefully exercising her right to freedom of expression she must be released immediately and unconditionally.

"Regrettably, vaguely-worded and broadly-defined crimes such as 'gathering and colluding against national security' and 'insulting the Islamic sanctities', for which she appears to have been held, are often used by the Iranian authorities to curb those who peacefully express their opinions, including criticising the government."

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