Iran Human RightsIran upholds sentence against Kurdish activist

Iran upholds sentence against Kurdish activist

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ImageAP: Iran's appeals court has upheld an 11-year jail sentence against a prominent Kurdish human rights activist, his lawyer said Saturday.

The Associated Press

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

ImageTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's appeals court has upheld an 11-year jail sentence against a prominent Kurdish human rights activist, his lawyer said Saturday.

Nasrin Sotudeh said the court ruled on Sept. 28 against her client, Mohammad Sadeq Kaboudvand, who has been convicted of acting against national security and propagating against the ruling Islamic establishment. Sotudeh was informed of the ruling on Oct. 18, she said.

Kaboudvand, a 47-year-old journalist who founded the non-governmental Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan in Iran's Kurdish region three years ago, has been held in Tehran's Evin prison since June 2007.

Sotudeh said Kaboudvand has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for setting up a human rights organization and one year for publicity against the government.

"This ruling is contrary to the provisions of the constitution," Sotudeh told The Associated Press. "Setting up a human rights group is not considered a crime under Iran's constitution, let alone deserving such a harsh punishment."

Sotudeh said the verdict was now considered final. She said she is planning to appeal to Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, to ask him to reopen the case.

"The harsh sentence is aimed at frightening human rights activists and warning them not to be involved in human rights activities," she said.

In a separate case in 2005, Kaboudvand was sentenced to 18 months in jail over his critical writings, and the license of his local newspaper "Payam-e Mardom-e-Kordestan", or Message of the Kurdistan People, was revoked by the authorities.

Sotudeh said the court later commuted the sentence to 6 months in jail and the ban on his paper was lifted, but he was detained before being able to reopen his newspaper.

Reporters Without Borders has called the national security charges against Kaboudvand "baseless."

"This is just a clumsy pretext for silencing a journalist who had for a long time been writing about discrimination against minorities in Iran," it said.

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