[JURIST] Iranian economist and journalist Saeed Laylaz was sentenced to a nine-year jail term on Wednesday for possessing classified information and participating in protests following the contested presidential election in June [JURIST news archive]. Laylaz has been a longstanding critic of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], and was an editor for the reform newspaper Sarmayeh [media website, in Persian], which was shut down by the government last month. Shapour Kazemi, the brother-in-law of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi [IranTracker profile], was also sentenced to one year in jail after being charged with participating in the demonstrations. Laylaz and Kazemi have 20 days to appeal their sentences.
Thousands were arrested during the protests following the contested June election, and about 140 have been tried in court to date. Of those tried, 81 have been convicted and sentenced, including former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi who was sentenced last month [JURIST report]. The government's response to the protests has been criticized, and human rights groups have called for [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly [official website] to appoint a special envoy to investigate allegations of human rights abuses in Iran since the election. Alleged human rights abuses of detainees include sexual assault, beatings, and forced confessions [JURIST reports]. The government has detained dozens of journalists as well as protesters, and has shut down numerous media outlets. Laylaz was arrested on June 17, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) [advocacy website], which monitors the status of detained journalists in Iran [materials].