Iran protests

Niece of Iran’s supreme leader sentenced to 3 years in prison after backing protests

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Farideh Moradkhani, a niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and an outspoken critic of the Islamic Republic, has been sentenced to three years in prison, her lawyer said on Friday.

Moradkhani was arrested last month after she declared her support for the ongoing anti-regime protests in Iran and called on the international community to cut ties with Tehran.

Moradkhani’s lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, said on Twitter that his client was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison.

After an appeal, Moradkhani’s jail sentence was reduced to three years, he said.

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Aghasi said Moradkhani was tried by Iran’s Special Clerical Court – a court independent of the country’s judiciary. The court is tasked with prosecuting clerics and answers only to the supreme leader.

Agahsi said the court had no jurisdiction over his client’s case given she is not a cleric.

He did not say what Moradkhani had been charged with, and there has been no comment from authorities or state media on the case.

Moradkhani has been critical of the regime in the past and was arrested on two other separate occasions – earlier this year and in 2018.

Earlier this week, Badri Hosseini Khamenei, Moradkhani’s mother and a sister of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who lives in Iran, declared her opposition to her brother’s regime and called on military forces to join protesters “before it is too late,” in a letter shared by her France-based son.

“Ali Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guards and mercenaries should lay down their weapons as soon as possible and join the people before it is too late,” the letter read.

“As my human duty, many times I brought the voice of the people to the ears of my brother Ali Khamenei decades ago. However, after I saw that he did not listen and continued the way of [ex-Supreme Leader Ruhollah] Khomeini in suppressing and killing innocent people, I cut off my relationship with him,” she said.

Protests have swept across Iran since September 16 when 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini died after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran.

Demonstrators have been calling for the downfall of the regime in movement that has become one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.

At least 458 people, including 63 children and 29 women, have been killed by security forces in the protests, according to the Oslo-based rights group Iran Human Rights (IHR).

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