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Iranian Student Activist Remains In Solitary Confinement

Iranian student activist Majid Tavakoli
Iranian student activist Majid Tavakoli
An Iranian student activist whose case has become a symbol for opposition protests remains imprisoned in solitary confinement, his brother told RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Majid Tavakoli was arrested on December 7, 2009, after giving a speech during a protest at Tehran's Amir Kabir University. He was sentenced in January to 8 1/2 years in prison.

Ali Tavakoli, Majid's brother, told Radio Farda on April 20 that Majid's lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, was not allowed to enter the courtroom during Majid's trial.

"Majid told me that [the court case against him] is four pages long -- merely about a speech he gave," Ali said. He described the charges against Majid -- which included insulting the supreme leader and the president, spreading propaganda against the regime, and collusion -- as "baseless."

Ali Tavakoli said his brother has "unlawfully" been kept in solitary confinement at Tehran's Evin prison. "According to law, Majid should have been transferred to the prison's public ward after his sentence was issued, but he was not," Ali said.

He added that he visited his brother for 15 minutes at the prison on April 14. He said Majid's physical health has deteriorated after four months in solitary confinement.

Authorities said Majid was taken into custody wearing a veil, suggesting that he dressed as a woman in an effort to avoid arrest. Witnesses who saw Majid at the university the day of his detention say he was not wearing a veil.

Iranian opposition activists have mounted a campaign in support of Majid in which men wore veils in a symbolic protest.

Tavakoli was awarded the Homo Homini prize on March 10. The award is given annually by the Prague-based NGO People in Need "in recognition of a dedication to the promotion of human rights, democracy, and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts."