Accessibility links

Prominent Iranian Activist Given Long Prison Term, Lashes

Iranian political prisoner Heshmatollah Tabarzadi

Iranian political prisoner Heshmatollah Tabarzadi

Political activist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi has been sentenced by a Tehran revolutionary court to nine years in jail and 74 lashes, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Tabarzadi, who heads Iran's banned opposition Democratic Front, was arrested by Intelligence Ministry officials in Tehran following bloody protests on the holy day of Ashura on December 28.

The charges against Tabarzadi include "insulting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei" and "assembly and collusion in order to act against national security," former student activist Kourosh Sehati told Radio Farda on October 4.

Sehati, who is based in Washington, said handing down such severe sentences against noted activists behind closed doors and in the absence of lawyers is not unusual in Iran.

"The authorities have no aim but silencing these activists by giving them tough sentences," he said. "But this will only increase the number of dissidents who oppose the Iranian regime."

"Tabarzadi is a spokesman for the Council for Solidarity for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran," Sehati said. "He is very popular among students and very active in organizing them."

Tabarzadi was initially held in the notorious ward 209 of Tehran's Evin prison, which is thought to be administered by intelligence services. He was later transferred to Rajaeeshahr prison for protesting the execution of five Kurdish activists in May. He had spent several years in jail for his political activities before being detained again in 2009.

Tabarzadi's lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, also is being held in Evin prison. He is accused of "collusion against national security" and "spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic."