Iranian Reformist Leaders Sentenced to Prison, Political Ban

An Iranian court has sentenced seven reformist politicians, including a brother of former pro-reform President Mohammad Khatami, to one-year prison terms and barred them from political and media activity for two years, a lawyer says, Radio Farda reports.

Hojat Kermani, a lawyer who represents five of the reformists including Mohammad Reza Khatami, told the semiofficial ILNA news agency on October 2 that they have been found guilty of “anti-regime propaganda” activity.

“Six out of these seven reformists have been sentenced to one year imprisonment. Based on the court’s ruling, my clients have also been banned from membership in political parties and press and social media activity for two years,” ILNA cited Kermani as saying.

The seven were leaders of the major reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, that was banned in 2010 in a state crackdown that followed mass street protests against the disputed election that handed hard-line incumbent Mahmud Ahmadinejad a second term.

Iran often sentences political activists, journalists, and critics to vague charges, including spreading anti-regime propaganda and acting against national security. Kermani said that the sentences, which were issued in September following a trial held behind closed doors last year, are not final and can be appealed.

Lawmaker Bahram Parsayi, who is also the spokesman of the reformist faction in parliament, criticized the sentences against the reformist leaders and called on the judiciary to review them. He suggested that the sentences are politically motivated.

“In our view, these sentences are political rather than having a judicial aspect. It’s wrong that the reformists always have to face threats. This policy has to change,” Parsayi said on October 3.