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Iran Editor Gets Nine-Year Jail Term Over Vote Unrest


TEHRAN (Reuters) -- A newspaper editor and well-known critic of Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has been sentenced to nine years in jail, his lawyer said, the longest jail term yet for fomenting unrest after June's disputed elections.

Saeed Laylaz, whose daily paper "Sarmayeh" was banned last month, was found guilty of taking part in illegal gatherings and holding classified information, Mahmud Alizadeh-Tabatabaie was quoted on the semi-official Fars agency as saying.

"I was informed about the verdict verbally, but as soon as I receive the formal written verdict we will have 20 days to appeal," Alizadeh-Tabatabaie said.

Iran, locked in dispute with world powers over its nuclear energy program, has staged several trials over protests after the June presidential election that returned Ahmadinejad to power. Five people have been sentenced to death.

The poll plunged Iran into its most serious internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, exposing deep divisions in its ruling elite and further straining ties with the West.

Another journalist, Hengameh Shahidi, who is also an adviser to defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karrubi, has been sentenced to six years and three months in jail, Karrubi's website Tagheer said on Novemember 30.

He was found guilty of acting against national security, disturbing public order, creating and leading street riots, and doing interviews with "antirevolution" British news outlet the BBC, the website said.

Shahpour Kazemi, brother-in-law of another defeated presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Musavi, was sentenced to one year in jail, opposition websites reported this week.

Both verdicts are subject to appeal.

Analysts regard the trials as an attempt by the authorities to uproot the moderate opposition and put an end to mass protests such as those that erupted after the election.
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