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Iran rights lawyer jailed for anti-government activities

Prominent Iranian rights lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison and banned from working as a lawyer and a teacher for 10 years after being convicted of seeking to overthrow the government. He had represented [AP report] some of the activists involved in the protests following the disputed 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive]. He was an associate of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi [JURIST news archive] and co-founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) [advocacy website], an organization that issues regular reports about human rights violations in Iran. Dadkah was also fined for having a satellite TV receiver in his home. The conviction is seen as an attempt by the government to quell dissidents in light of protests across the Middle East. Fellow DHRC co-founders have been prosecuted for acting against the government. Iranian human rights lawyer Mohammed Seifzadeh was also sentenced to nine years in prison and a 10-year ban from practicing law for acting against national security in helping establish the DHRC. DHRC's co-founders, Nobel Prize winner Ebadi and Abdolfatah Soltani [JURIST news archive] have been similarly charged.

Dadkah was involved in some other high-profile cases. In 2007, he represented three university students students [JURIST report] who were ultimately sentenced to two to three years in prison for insulting Islam and Islamic clerics. Iran continues to silence opposition leaders and dissidents. Earlier this year, Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi [NYT profile; JURIST news archive] was placed under house arrest after security forces took control of the area outside of Karroubi's residence and barred all family members, except his wife, from entering. In January, Iranian chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi delivered a speech at Tehran University indicating that he would prosecute opposition leaders for political unrest that took place after the country's 2009 presidential election. Dolatabadi threatened to prosecute [NYT report] Mousavi and Karroubi and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami [BBC profile]. Mousavi and the other leaders called for continuing protests [JURIST report] to oppose the results of the 2009 presidential election, arguing that it was fraudulent. The three leaders would join a long line of individuals detained or already prosecuted for their roles during the election protests.

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