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Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.

The United States and European Union on September 30 called on Iran to free Narges Mohammadi, a journalist and activist whose 16-year prison sentence was recently upheld by Iranian courts.

Mohammadi was arrested last year after launching a campaign to end the death penalty in Iran. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison in May for founding a movement against the death penalty, which was deemed to be an illegal splinter group.

"No one should be jailed for peaceful, civic activism," U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, noting that Mohammadi's health is "rapidly deteriorating" and she has been barred from communicating with her two young children.

"Given these circumstances, the imposition of this prison sentence is particularly harsh and unjustified and we call on the government of Iran to provide Mohammadi with adequate medical care and to release her on humanitarian grounds," Toner said.

The European Union also issued a statement saying Mohammadi's imprisonment "sends a worrying signal about the human rights situation" in Iran.

"Freedom of expression and peaceful advocacy of human rights should be protected, not penalized," the EU said.

With reporting by Reuters
U.K. Ambassador Judith Gough with President Petro Poroshenko (file photo)

British Ambassador to Ukraine Judith Gough has expressed concerns over a ruling by Russia's Supreme Court that upheld a ban on the Mejlis, the self-governing body of Crimean Tatars in Ukraine's occupied territory of Crimea.

Gough wrote on Twitter on September 30: "Concerned at Russian Supreme Court decision banning Crimean Tatar Mejlis in illegally annexed Crimea. Russia must respect human rights."

Russia's Supreme Court ruling on September 29 upheld the decision of a Moscow-backed Crimean court to ban the Mejlis.

Mejlis chairman Refat Chubarov told journalists in Kyiv on September 30 that the Russian court's ruling will be appealed at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry condemned the Russian Supreme Court's ruling, urging Russia to immediately lift its ban and end what it called "the oppression of the Crimean Tatar community in Crimea."

On April 26, more than two years after Russia seized and illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Crimea's pro-Russian Supreme Court branded the Mejlis as an extremist organization and officially banned it.

The Mejlis had been legalized by the Ukrainian government in 1999.

With reporting by UNIAN

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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