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Iran Criticizes EU Parliament Over Sakharov Prize

Nasrin Sotoudeh (left) and Jafar Panahi

Nasrin Sotoudeh (left) and Jafar Panahi

Iran has criticized the European Parliament for awarding a human rights prize to two Iranian dissidents.

The European Parliament in October awarded the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi, citing their courage in defending fundamental liberties in the face of oppression by the Iranian regime.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted on December 16 as accusing the EU of having "political" goals in giving the prize to Iranians.

Mehmanparast accused the EU of having a "selective" view of human rights, saying the bloc should focus on rights shortcomings inside the EU.

Sotoudeh is serving a six-year jail sentence for spreading propaganda and conspiring against state security.

Panahi has been held under house arrest since December 2010 on charges of engaging in antigovernment propaganda.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

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