Iranian human rights lawyer jailed for 18 years

Abdolfattah Soltani found guilty of spreading anti-government propaganda and sent to remote prison, says daughter

A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer has been sentenced to 18 years in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court, his daughter said on Sunday.

Abdolfattah Soltani was also banned from exercising his profession for 20 years and will be sent to a remote prison where it will be difficult for his family to visit him, Maede Soltani told the Associated Press. “It is a harsh and heinous sentence. The trial was completely politically motivated,” she added.

Soltani, 58, co-founded a human rights group with Iranian Nobel Peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. He was arrested last year and has been held in Tehran’s Evin prison.

Her father’s lawyer was informed of the sentence on Sunday, but her family do not know when the court made its ruling, Maede Soltani said. The family will seek to appeal against the ruling. “We hope this unfair sentence will be overruled,” she added.

Soltani says her father was charged with co-founding the Center for Human Rights Defenders, spreading anti-government propaganda, endangering national security and accepting an illegal prize – a reference to a German human rights prize he was awarded in 2009.

Maede Soltani, who lives in Germany, said she did not know whether her father already knew about the sentence. Her mother is allowed to visit him in prison every two weeks and he did not mention it during their last encounter, she added.

The revolutionary court also ruled that Soltani will be transferred to a remote prison in the city of Borazjan, about 620 miles south-west of Tehran.

Soltani was arrested in 2005 and again during 2009’s disputed presidential elections on “politically motivated” charges, according to Amnesty International. “Abdolfattah Soltani is one of the bravest human rights defenders in Iran,” the organisation said following his detention last September.

Working alongside Ebadi, the lawyer also represented the family of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian of Iranian origin who was arrested for taking photographs in front of Evin. She died several days later in the prison, possibly after being tortured.

An investigative panel concluded Kazemi died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage caused by a physical attack, but the findings were rejected by Iran’s conservative judiciary. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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