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Daughter: Iran dissident gets 18 years in prison

Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) – A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer has been sentenced to 18 years in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court, his daughter said Sunday.

Abdolfattah Soltani was also banned from exercising his profession for 20 years and he will be sent to a remote prison where it will be difficult for the family to visit him, Maede Soltani told The Associated Press.

“It is a harsh and heinous sentence,” she said. “The trial was completely politically motivated,” added Maede Soltani, who lives in Germany.

Soltani, 58, co-founded a human rights group with Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. He was arrested last year and has since been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Her father’s lawyer was informed of the sentence Sunday, but her family does not know when the court made its ruling, Maede Soltani said. The family will seek to appeal the ruling.

“We hope this unfair sentence will be overruled,” she said.

Soltani says her father was charged with co-founding the Center for Human Rights Defenders, spreading anti-government propaganda and endangering national security and accepting an illegal prize _ a reference to a German human rights prize he was awarded in 2009.

Maede Soltani said she did not know whether her father already knew about the sentence. Her mother is allowed to visit him in prison every two weeks, and he did not mention it during their last encounter, she added.

The revolutionary court also ruled that Soltani will be transferred to a remote prison in the city of Borazjan, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) southwest of Tehran, she said.

Soltani was previously arrested for seven months in 2005 and again for several months in the wake of 2009’s disputed presidential elections on “politically motivated” charges, according to Amnesty International.

“Abdolfattah Soltani is one of the bravest human rights defenders in Iran,” the organization said following his detention last September.

Working alongside Ebadi, the lawyer also represented the family of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian of Iranian origin who was arrested for taking photographs in front of Evin and died several days later in the prison, possibly after being tortured.

An investigative panel concluded Kazemi died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage caused by a “physical attack,” but the findings were rejected by Iran’s conservative judiciary.

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Juergen Baetz can be reached on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz

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