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Iran court sentences opposition leader to 8 years in prison

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Court on Wednesday sentenced opposition figure and former Iranian foreign minister Ebrahim Yazdi to eight years in prison for attempting to act against national security. Yazdi was also banned from civic activities for five years [AFP report] in the closed-door trial reportedly held in early November. Yazdi, now 80 and suffering from cancer and a heart ailment, is head of the Freedom Movement of Iran [Princeton University backgrounder], which was instrumental in the 1979 Islamic revolution but was subsequently banned after it turned against clerics and advocated democratic reform [AP report]. According to his lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Yazdi refused to defend himself [DPA report] after questioning the legitimacy and jurisdiction of the court. Yazdi's lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, in July was sentenced to nine years in prison and banned from working as a lawyer [JURIST report] and a teacher for ten years after being convicted of seeking to overthrow the government. Yazdi plans to appeal and hopes for an appeals court that will allow a public trial with a jury.

Yazdi is one of several opposition figures that have been detained and charged in connection with a wave of civil unrest following the disputed re-election [JURIST news archive] of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile, official website]. In March, Iranian opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and Mehdi Karroubi [NYT profile; JURIST news archive] and their wives were arrested and jailed [JURIST report]. In February, Karroubi called for his own trial to be set up in a public court in an open letter to the head of the Supreme Judicial System of Iran [GlobaLex backgrounder], Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani [official website, in Farsi]. Also in February, Iranian lawmakers called for Karroubi and two other opposition leaders, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami [BBC profile] to face trial and death [JURIST report].

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