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Iranian Human Rights Activist Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison

A prominent Iranian human rights activist has been sentenced to 16 years in prison, The New York Times reported [1] Wednesday.

Narges Mohammadi, a human rights lawyer, who “has been in and out of jail over the past 15 years” was sentenced by Abolghassem Salavati, the head of an Iranian revolutionary court, to five years for “gathering and conspiring with the aim of committing crimes against national security,” to ten years for “forming and managing an illegal group,” and to an additional year for “propaganda against the state.” Mohammadi heads an anti-death penalty advocacy group called Legham.

“I expect that she will only have to serve 10 out of 16 years. If Narges agrees we will appeal to the Supreme Court,” said Massoud Behzadi, Mohammadi’s lawyer.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights lawyer and activist who was jailed for two years, told the Times that Mohammadi “has committed no crime and has just been doing her job as a lawyer and citizen. … Every day Narges is behind bars is one too many.”

Mohammadi, who was previously released from jail due to poor health and placed under house arrest, was re-arrested [2] and taken from her home in May, while her children were in school. That arrest took place one week after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told [3] an American audience that Iran didn’t jail people for their beliefs.

Mohammadi wrote a letter in May from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, where she was being held with a group of 25 female political prisoners who were facing a combined 177 years in prison. In the letter she described the conditions in Evin as being “beyond tolerance” and called her experience “psychological torture.”

She went on a hunger strike in June after authorities prevented her from speaking with her children, who were in France with their father. After a social media campaign, authorities eventually relaxed the restrictions and Mohammadi ended her hunger strike.

Executions in Iran, which Mohammadi advocates against, have increased [4] in each of the first three years of President Hassan Rouhani’s tenure, reaching a total of 966 last year, the highest total in a decade.

A surge of executions in August prompted the United Nations top investigator into Iran’s human rights record to blast [5] Iran for its “complete disregard of its obligations under international human rights law and especially of international fair trial standards and due process guarantees.”

[Photo: Sia Rajabi / YouTube ]