Leading Iranian human rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi has been sentenced by a court to eight years in prison and more than 70 lashes, her husband announced via Twitter on Sunday.
The details of both the verdict and the case against Mohammadi remain unclear as her sentence was handed out after a hearing that lasted only five minutes, according to her husband who is based in France.
A colleague of Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaigner Shirin Ebadi, who now lives outside Iran, Mohammadi has been repeatedly jailed by the Iranian authorities in recent times.
She was released from prison in October 2020 but then suddenly arrested in November 2021 in Karaj outside Teheran while attending a memorial for a man killed during nationwide protests in November 2019.
Amnesty International at the time condemned Mohammadi’s arrest as “arbitrary” and described her as a “prisoner of conscience targeted solely for her peaceful human rights activities”.
Mohammadi, who has long campaigned against the use of the death penalty in Iran, had, before her latest arrest, been working with families seeking justice for loved ones who they say were killed by security forces in the 2019 protests.
Even while out of prison, she had in May 2021 been handed a sentence of 80 lashes and 30 months in jail on charges of “propaganda” against Iran’s Islamic system.
Activists have decried what they see as increased repression in Iran over the last months, including the jailing of campaigners and greater use of the death penalty.
Prominent detainees have also died in prison, such as the well-known poet Baktash Abtin.
Another top rights defender serving a lengthy sentence in Iran is prize-winning lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who defended women arrested for protesting against the requirement for Iranian women to wear the hijab.
While she is currently believed to be out of jail on medical leave, supporters fear she is at risk of being imminently returned to prison. (Source: The Straits Times)