Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh sentenced to 7 years in jail

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Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to seven years in jail for security charges, a judge at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court told semi-official ISNA news agency on Monday.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to five years for colluding against the system and two years for insulting the leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” said judge Mohammad Moghiseh.

“The case has now gone to the appeal court,” said Moghiseh, who heads branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court.

Sotoudeh is an award-winning rights activist who was arrested last June and told she had already been found guilty in absentia of espionage charges and sentenced to six years by the court.

One of her lawyers, Mahmoud Behzadi-Rad, said on Sunday that the new verdict was also given in absentia, without specifying when it was handed down.

“Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court held a hearing which my client did not attend and... the court sentenced her in absentia,” state news agency IRNA quoted Behzadi-Rad as saying.

By late Sunday, the verdict had not been communicated to Sotoudeh, he added.

Before her arrest, Sotoudeh, 55, had taken on the cases of several women arrested for appearing in public without headscarves in protest at the mandatory dress code in force in Iran.

Sotoudeh won the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov human rights award in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offences committed as minors.

She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of the ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Her husband Reza Khandan was sentenced to six years in jail, also for security related charges, his lawyer Mohammad Moghimi said in January.

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