Middle East

Iran condemned by UN over activist prison sentence

Prominent Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, second right, sits next to Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, second left, and the now deceased poet Simin Behbahani, left, while attending a meeting on women"s rights in Tehran, Iran on 27 August 2007 Image copyright AP
Image caption Nargis Mohammadi (second from right) at a meeting with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi (second from left) in 2007

The UN says it is appalled at a further 10-year prison sentence imposed by Iran on a prominent human rights activist, already serving six years in jail.

Nargis Mohammadi was found guilty of several different charges including "founding an illegal group".

Ms Mohammadi, who works closely with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, had been campaigning against the death penalty in Iran.

Iranian officials have not commented on the sentence.

Ms Mohammadi was the vice-president of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Center.

It was founded by Shirin Ebadi, who left Iran after the disputed re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, which was followed by protests and a harsh crackdown by authorities.

Supporters say Ms Mohammadi was sentenced in Tehran's Revolutionary Court on charges including planning crimes to harm the security of Iran, spreading propaganda against the government and forming and managing an illegal group.

If the sentences are upheld, she will have to serve at least 10 years on the most serious charge, as the Iranian penal code stipulates that those convicted of multiple charges serve the longest sentence.

The new sentence will be on top of the six-year sentence she is serving at the moment.

'Chilling example'

The office of the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said it was "appalled" by Ms Mohammadi's sentence.

"Her sentencing is illustrative of an increasingly low tolerance for human rights advocacy in Iran,'' it said in a statement.

The statement said Iran had reportedly denied Ms Mohammadi specialised medical care.

Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said Ms Mohammadi's sentence was "yet another chilling example of Iran's use of vaguely- worded national security charges to crack down on peaceful freedom of expression".

Amnesty also says the Iranian authorities have denied Ms Mohammadi contact with to her nine-year-old twin daughters.

The children have had to move abroad to live with their father as there was no-one to look after them in Iran.

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