Iranian Court Sentences Facebook Activists to Jail

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) —An Iranian court handed jail sentences of eight to 21 years to eight Facebook page administrators, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.

The report said the defendants were convicted of plotting against national security, spreading propaganda against the ruling system and insulting officials. It did not identify the defendants or the Facebook pages.

It said that the court issued its verdict against the eight activists, who come from various cities including the capital, in April following several court appearances. They appealed immediately, said IRNA.

Facebook is already officially banned in the country, along with other social websites like Twitter and YouTube as well as their mobile apps. However some senior leaders like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are active on Twitter, and many Iranians use proxy servers to access banned websites and applications.

In May an Iranian judge ordered Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear in court to answer complaints by individuals who say Facebook-owned applications Instagram and Whatsapp violate their privacy

Authorities banned the social websites after Iranian opposition members allegedly used them to organize their protest rallies following the disputed re-election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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