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Kurdish Journalist, Activist Sentenced To Death In Iran

(RFE/RL) July 19, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Authorities in Iran's northwestern Kurdistan Province have condemned two ethnic Kurds to death for acting against the country's national security.

Their lawyers told Radio Farda that they will appeal their death sentences.

The trial has been accompanied by unconfirmed suggestions in the Iranian media that the two men -- journalist Adnan Hassanpur and social activist Hiwa Butimar -- were working with banned groups that oppose the government.

Iran's heavily Kurdish northwest is the scene of sporadic tensions between locals and the central authorities.

Hassanpur and Butimar were reportedly convicted of acting against Iran's national security.

The men are currently being held at an unknown location or locations.

Some Iranian news websites have suggested that both men are members of Kurdish groups that oppose the central government.

Hassanpur's sister today rejected such suggestions in comments to Radio Farda:

"I think his only [offense] is his pen and the articles he has written," she said. "As Adnan's sister, I know all about him -- he didn't have any relation to any political party inside or outside Iran. All our relatives and friends know that Adnan was not related to any [opposition] parties and he's been a totally independent journalist."

Hassanpur was a member of the editorial board of the weekly "Assu," which covered the situation in Iran's Kurdistan Province -- including unrest in 2005 over the death of a youth activist.

The weekly was shut down by authorities in August 2005.

Reports say Hassanpur has been in jail since late January.

Butimar was reportedly jailed in early January.

The news of the death sentences against the two Kurds came as four Iranian-Americans, three of whom are in detention, are also facing charges of acting against Iran's nationality security.

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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