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Iran court sentences women's rights activist to prison for 'propaganda'

[JURIST] An Iranian court has sentenced [Change for Equality press release] a man to one year in prison after police arrested him last year for collecting signatures in a Tehran park in support of women's rights, his lawyer said Sunday. Amir Yaghoub-Ali [Amnesty International profile], a twenty-two year-old student, was found guilty on May 25 of endangering national security and spreading propaganda. Yaghoub-Ali's signature campaign was in support of the larger One Million Signatures Campaign [movement backgrounder], protesting Iran's interpretation of Sharia law [BBC backgrounder] under which women must obtain a male guardian's permission to work or travel, are prohibited from serving as judges, and have their court testimony given only half the value of a man's. Yaghoub-Ali's lawyers plan to appeal.

Yaghoub-Ali was the first man to be jailed for the collection of signatures. In July 2007, leading women's rights activist Delaram Ali was sentenced to 34 months in prison and 10 lashes [JURIST report] for "acting against national security" and "advertising against the system" for participating in a 2006 women's rights protest [RFE/RL report] in Tehran. In December 2007, two women's rights activists were charged with acting against national security [JURIST report] following their involvement with the One Million Signatures Campaign. Earlier this month, a human rights group condemned the Iranian government for continued harassment and intimidation of dissidents, students, reporters, labor activists and other government critics, and echoed earlier criticisms [JURIST reports] of the government's treatment of women. Reuters has more.

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