Iran sentences dissident to prison again over protests: Lawyer

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An Iranian court has sentenced a prominent activist and vocal supporter of nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death to more than five years in jail, his lawyer said Thursday.

Arash Sadeghi, a former student activist and freedom of expression campaigner, was released on bail last week following his arrest in October during an intense phase of the protest movement.

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His lawyer, Ramin Safarnia, said on Twitter that Sadeghi had been sentenced to five years for attending illegal gatherings and another eight months for “propaganda against the regime.”

Iranian law permits courts to decide that jail time for different offences be served concurrently, but it was unclear whether such a decision had been made in Sadeghi’s case.

Sadeghi, who has been in and out of prison since 2009, is not believed so far to have been re-arrested.

It is relatively common in Iran for defendants in such cases to be free when the sentences are issued, and then summoned later by the authorities to serve their term.

The Revolutionary Court has also ordered Sadeghi to move out of Tehran, given him a two-year travel ban and barred him from online activities, the lawyer said.

It was not immediately clear when these restrictions were due to take effect, or how long the internet ban would remain in force.

Sadeghi’s father, Hossein, confirmed the verdict and added on Twitter: “My God, is this a fair sentence?”

According to Sadeghi’s family, he has cancer, needs specialized medication and is in fragile health.

He was sentenced in 2013 to 19 years in prison on national security charges, which he began serving in 2016 but was released after five years due to health issues.

Sadeghi was one of several prominent dissidents still in Iran jailed in the crackdown on the anti-regime protests since Amini’s September 16 death in custody, after her arrest for allegedly violating strict dress rules for women.

Two leading fellow campaigners, Hossein Ronaghi and Majid Tavakoli, have also been arrested and released on bail, but could still be sentenced and returned to prison.

Sadeghi’s wife, the journalist and activist Golrokh Iraee, was arrested in September and remains in jail, according to reports by Persian-language media abroad.

At least 481 people have been killed in the crackdown on the four-month protest movement, according to Norway-based group Iran Human Rights. Authorities say thousands have been arrested.

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