[JURIST] A prominent Iranian journalist and filmmaker was sentenced on Sunday to three-and-a-half years in prison and 50 lashes for his activities after the disputed 2009 presidential elections [JURIST news archive]. Mohammad Nourizad was sentenced [Kaleme report, in Persian] by Judge Pyrbasy, the head of Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch 26 [GlobaLex backgrounder] for "distributing propaganda against the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and desecrating the image of thirty years of the Islamic establishment," and insulting the supreme leader, the president, the head of the judiciary, and Ayatollah Elmolhoda of the Assembly of Experts [official website, in Persian]. Nourizad was initially arrested [AP report] in November after writing an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [BBC profile], criticizing the Iranian government for its crackdown on protesters following the disputed presidential election, which resulted in more than 80 deaths. Nourizad was a writer for Kayhan [official website, in Persian], a publication under the direct supervision of the Khamenei, but Nourizad distanced himself [AFP report] from the paper following the election unrest.
In March, Iranian authorities jailed reform movement leader [JURIST report] Hossein Marashi after an appeals court upheld a one-year sentence for spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic. Marashi was a leading supporter of Mir Hossein Mousavi [BBC profile] who opposed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in the disputed presidential election. The court also upheld [AFP report] a ban on Marashi from participating in party political activity for six years. Also in March, an Iranian appeals court upheld [JURIST report] the death sentence for a 20-year-old student who took part in anti-government protests in December. Mohammad Amin Valian was convicted of Moharebeh, which means waging war against God and is punishable by death under Iranian law. In February, a joint US-EU statement condemned [JURIST report] Iranian action against protesters and other critics of government policy. The Iranian government responded strongly to opposition following June's disputed elections, prompting additional criticism from rights groups and advocacy organizations.