Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani [JURIST news archive] has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after being found guilty by a Tehran Revolutionary Court [official website, in Persian; GlobaLex backgrounder] of spreading anti-government propaganda, his daughter confirmed on Sunday. In addition to his prison sentence, Soltani is also forbidden from practicing law for 20 years [AP report]. Soltani was arrested last year and has been held in a jail in Tehran while awaiting his trial. According to his daughter, in addition to his spreading anti-government propaganda charge, he was also charged with accepting an illegal prize from Germany, endangering national security and being one of the founders of the Center for Human Rights Defenders [advocacy website], along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi [Nobel profile]. Soltani is expected to be transferred to a remote prison in Borazjan, about 620 miles from Tehran.
Soltani has faced previous charges brought by the Iranian government. In 2007 an Iranian appeals court acquitted Soltani of charges related to espionage [JURIST report] after the court determined there was no evidence of illegal activity. The Iranian appeals court decision overturned the lower court's finding of guilt and prior sentence of five years imprisonment. During this prior trial, Soltani served a total of seven months in prison. Soltani was arrested in 2005 while he was representing the family of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi [CBC backgrounder], who died in Iranian custody in July 2003 amidst allegations of torture and abuse [JURIST report].