Iran sentences a son of an opposition leader to 6 months

AP News
Posted: Mar 13, 2017 4:25 PM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A son of an Iranian opposition leader has been sentenced to six months in jail on charges of distributing propaganda against the government, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported Monday.

The report quoted Mohammad Jalilian, a lawyer for Hossein Karroubi, the son of opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi, as saying Iranian authorities pronounced Hossein guilty for publishing his father's letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in April in which he asks for an open trial.

Jalilian said the sentence announced on Sunday can be appealed in 20 days.

Mahdi Karroubi, 78, alongside Iran's main opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, ran against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election. Reformers charged that Ahmadinejad's victory was fraudulent and the ensuing demonstrations rocked Iran for weeks.

Iranian authorities cracked down on the opposition and put both opposition leaders under house arrest in early 2011. Judicial officials have said several times in the past that they would take legal action against Mousavi and Karroubi but no action was ever taken.

Rouhani in his successful 2013 presidential campaign had promised to lift the house arrest, but the pair remains detained.

Hossein Karroubi's sentencing comes amid an ongoing crackdown on public expression. In the past week, two reformist journalists have been arrested.

Ehsun Mazandarani, former editor-in-chief of moderate daily Farhikhtegan, was arrested one month after he had been released following more than a year in prison. Mazandarani was jailed in November 2015 on charges of conspiracy and colluding against national security and only released on Feb. 11. ILNA said on Sunday that the reasons for Mazandarani's latest detention are unclear.

Also detained was journalist Hengameh Shahidi, who served as adviser on women's issues to Mahdi Karroubi during his election campaigns.

Rouhani, who faces re-election in a May 19 vote, had promised to soften domestic restrictions and championed Iran's nuclear deal with the west as a way to end Iran's international isolation

But his rule has also faced pushback from hardliners in parliament and the judiciary who oppose the nuclear deal and have continued to launch crackdowns.

The campaign of arrests has focused in particular on Iranians holding dual nationalities.

On Sunday, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announced that a man who has dual Iranian-American nationality, was arrested for running an illegal alcohol business. He said authorities found 4000 liters of alcoholic beverages in the basement of a building the man owns in northwestern Tehran.

Dolatabadi also said that an Iranian-American man was detained for allegedly commissioning and displaying obscene artwork in a private gallery.

Earlier this month, judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said an Iranian-American also faced charges after allegedly taking $3.1 million from people by promising to help them emigrate to foreign countries.

Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning that those it detains cannot receive consular assistance. In many of the most recent cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings before Iran's Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.

Among them are Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his octogenarian father, Baquer Namazi, who are serving 10-year prison sentences for "cooperating with the hostile American government."

Another dual national, Robin Shahini, is serving an 18-year prison sentence for "collaboration with a hostile government."