A judge from Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Iran [GlobaLex backgrounder] on Saturday sentenced Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist arrested following the 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive], to six years in prison. Ahari was sentenced to three-and-half-years [AFP report] for warring against God, known in Islamic law as Moharebeh, two years for conspiracy to commit a crime and six months for propaganda against the government. In addition to the jail sentence, Ahari was also ordered to pay a USD $400 fine [Al Jazeera report] or face 74 lashes. Ahari's conviction on the charge of Moharebeh could have resulted in the death penalty. Her lawyer has stated that he will appeal the sentence. Ahari was released from prison last week [JURIST report] after she posted bail of USD $500,000. Earlier this month, the court concluded [JURIST report] Ahari's one-day trial, conducted by head judge Pyrbasy, during which she faced charges of Moharebeh, conspiring to commit a crime, propaganda against the government and disturbing the public order and having ties to the People's Mujahedeen of Iran [CFR backgrounder], an exiled organization that advocates for the overthrow of the Iranian government. The charges have been criticized by opposition organizations in Iran and rights groups worldwide who have called for Ahari's release.
Ahari was first arrested following the June 2009 presidential elections, which resulted in widespread charges of fraud and nationwide protests. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists [advocacy website], this is the first time that a journalist has been charged with a capital crime in Iran. Pyrabasy previously presided over the trial of Mohammad Nourizad, a prominent Iranian journalist and filmmaker, who was sentenced in April to three-and-a-half years [JURIST report] in prison and 50 lashes for his activities after the 2009 elections. Nourizad was sentenced for "distributing propaganda against the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and desecrating the image of thirty years of the Islamic establishment," and insulting the supreme leader, the president, the head of the judiciary and Ayatollah Elmolhoda of the Assembly of Experts. In December, Iranian economist and journalist Saeed Laylaz was sentenced to a nine-year jail term [JURIST report] for possessing classified information and participating in protests following the 2009 elections. Thousands were arrested during the protests following the contested election.