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Iran court jails prominent human rights lawyer

Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Iran [GlobeLex backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on Saturday sentenced Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammed Seifzadeh to nine years in prison and a 10-year ban from practicing law. Seifzadeh was charged [RFE/RL report] with acting against national security in establishing the Defender of Human Rights Center (DHRC) [advocacy website], an organization that issues regular reports about human rights violations in Iran. DHRC's co-founders, Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, Abdolfatah Soltani [JURIST news archives] and Mohammed Ali Dadkhah are being similarly charged. In an interview [text, in Arabic] with Radio Free Europe, Seifzadeh says that he rejects the charges and will appeal his case.

Seifzadeh has worked on several high-profile cases, including defending [Iran Human Rights report] Massoumeh Yavari, a woman in Iran charged with enmity against God for carrying a pocket-knife in her purse. He also represented Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi's mother in a murder investigation [JURIST report] concerning Zahra's interrogation in Tehran. Seifzadeh's conviction is one in a series of measures taken against human rights lawyers, journalists and activists since the controversial 2009 presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. In September, Shiva Nazar Ahari, a journalist arrested following the election, was sentenced [JURIST report] to six years in prison for warring against God, conspiracy to commit a crime and propaganda against the government. Also in September, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was detained [JURIST report] for allegedly spreading propaganda and colluding against national security. In April, Mohammed Nourizad, a journalist and filmmaker was sentenced [JURIST report] to three-and-a-half years in prison and 50 lashes for his "propaganda" activities. Reform leader Hossein Marashi was also sentenced [JURIST report] for similar activities.

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