Seyed Hadi Kasaeizadeh, a journalist and editor-in-chief of Jameh News, who in 2016 was charged by the Tehran Prosecutor's Office with "publishing lies with the intention of disturbing the public mind" and "insulting government officials" for posting a selfie with a cow on his Instagram page, was this week informed that he would not be prosecuted.
According to a report in Journalism is Not a Crime, after four years, Kasaeizadeh's case was closed on September 23, 2020, after receiving notice from Branch 6 of the Criminal Court of Tehran province that the lack of a private plaintiff brought the matter to an end.
Kasaeizadeh was first summoned to Branch 2 of the Culture and Media Court in 2016 – when he told Jameh News on June 7, 2020, that "The head of the branch was Bijan Qasemzadeh, a strong, athletic man with a broken ear and drooping eyes who did not talk much and preferred to issue conviction order immediately when you entered his room."
"I did not know exactly what crime I had committed," Kasaeizadeh added. “When I entered Judge Ghasemzadeh's room, he handed me a questionnaire and said, ‘Answer!’ It said ‘You published on your personal Instagram page a selfie with a cow, and this is considered an insult.’”
"When I defended myself, he picked up the paper and went to the room of Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the Tehran prosecutor, to ask for advice, and then returned," Kasaeizadeh said of what happened at the hearing. "This happened several times. It was as if they coordinated to file a case against me in any way possible."
Kasaeizadeh was later released that same day on a bail of 10 million tomans [$400]. ”Finally, [the judge[ issued a 50 million toman bail. I protested and said how does a selfie with a cow on Instagram require a 50 million bail? We bargained and reduced it to 10 million tomans."
Four years after the case, on September 23, Kasaeizadeh was informed that the prosecution had been closed.
The indictment issued for this case, which was registered on September 21, states: "Based on Article 104 of the Islamic Penal Code with 2020 amendments, in the Law on commuting Punishment of Imprisonment, which considers crimes under articles 608 and 698 as pardonable offences, an because prosecution of the defendant is subject to having a private plaintiff, therefore, based on Article 104 of the Islamic Penal Code and Article 11 of the Law on commuting Punishment of Imprisonment, a suspension of prosecution order is issued due to the private plaintiff not complaining."
Kasaeizadeh has been summoned and convicted several times before. He was sentenced to one year in prison and fined four million tomans [$160] in a case related to exposing the financial corruption of the managers of the Central Bank and Sarmayeh Bank, based on a verdict issued by Branch 46 of the Tehran Court of Appeals, in June 2020.
Bijan Ghasemzadeh, the investigator of Kasaeizadeh and many other media cases, was sentenced in September 2020 to 10 years in prison in a case of corruption in the judiciary.
In an interview with Jameh News, Kasaeizadeh, referring to the conviction of Ghasemzadeh, the investigator of the cow selfie case, said: "Today, Bijan Ghasemzadeh appeared in court as a defendant. It is interesting that the case of my selfie with a cow was pending in the judiciary for four years, wai