In the absence of laws specifically dealing with Internet publishing, press law applies to Internet offenders, and their trials, as the trials of all political defendants, require the presence of a jury of their peers, lawyer Nemat Ahmadi tells Radio Farda after appearing in court along Qum-based website publisher Hamed Mottaqi. Hamed Mottaqi, publisher of Naqshineh, Qum’s first Internet news site, refused on Monday to defend himself in a hearing without a jury. The Islamic Republic police closed the site last year and arrested Mottaqi on charges of spreading false information and anti-regime propaganda
There is no law yet for Internet crimes, his lawyer Nemat Ahmad tells Radio Farda’s broadcaster Mahmonir Rahimi, but our judiciary has a history of prosecuting people with other laws when a specific law is not on the books, he adds.
“If Internet is considered a form of press, then the press law, which requires trial with jury, should apply,” he says. “In any case, since the alleged crime involved writing and publishing, it is not covered by the Islamic penal code, which the judge tried to apply in court.”
He says he supports his client’s refusal to offer a defense, and notes, “If all our political defendants did the same, by now we would have had laws covering the Internet and political crimes, and we would be out of the present deadlock.”
The government has drafted a bill to separate the Internet from the press, but due to the widespread use of the Internet, the communications ministry is not yet equipped to act as the new law’s enforcer, he says.