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Iran human rights lawyer sentenced to 13 years imprisonment

Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani [JURIST news archive] has been sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment by a Tehran Revolutionary Court [official website, in Persian; GlobaLex backgrounder], his daughter said Tuesday. Maede Soltani, who lives in Germany, was notified on Monday [Guardian report] about last week's ruling. The human rights lawyer was initially sentenced [JURIST report] to 18 years in prison for spreading anti-government propaganda, 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]. In addition, he was banned from practicing law for 20 years. Soltani appealed the ruling and was given a five-year reduction. The court offered to shorten the prison term further if Soltani would be willing to apologize for his actions and speak out against Ebadi publicly, but he refused to do so, according to his daughter. Unlike the first ruling, last week's ruling cannot be appealed.

Soltani has faced previous charges brought by the Iranian government. In 2007, an Iranian appeals court acquitted [JURIST report] Soltani of charges related to espionage after it determined that there was insufficient 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 [JURIST report] in July 2003 amidst allegations of torture and abuse.

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