Iran jails HR lawyer for 11 years over voicing dissent against regime

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Tehran, Jan 11 (ANI): Iran has reportedly sentenced a human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, to 11 years of imprisonment for crimes that include "activities against national security" and "propaganda against the regime."

The New York Times quoted Sotoudeh's husband Reza Khandan as saying that his wife was also barred from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years.

Khandan also said that his wife, who is well known in the country for her work defending women and children, was charged because of interviews she gave to foreign news outlets, even though "there is nowhere in the world, not even in Iran, where speaking to foreign media is a crime."

He added that although she has become thin and weak after conducting several hunger strikes to protest harsh treatment, "her spirit is strong."

Sotoudeh was arrested in September and has spent most of the time since her arrest in solitary confinement.

Khandan said his wife was told by her interrogators that her sentence was guaranteed to be over 10 years, which indicates that the ruling against her was politically motivated, adding: "This shows that the court itself did not play much of a role. We hope that the appeal court will come forward and issue justice."

He further said that five years of the sentence were for accusations that Sotoudeh was a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, an association of lawyers led by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, who left Iran following the disputed 2009 presidential election and subsequent crackdown on opposition figures, the paper said.

"While membership in the center is not in any way a crime, she was, in any case, not a member," he said, adding that his wife's defense lawyers would appeal the sentence.

Two other lawyers, Mohammad Seifzadeh and Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, were convicted of similar charges in connection with their roles as founding members of the center, which the Iranian authorities were reported to have closed down last month.

Dadkhah was released on bail in September after more than a year in prison, while Seifzadeh was sentenced in October to nine years imprisonment. (ANI)

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