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Jail sentence for Iranian dissident reported

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Soltani co-founded a human rights group with Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi [EPA]Abdolfattah Soltani, a prominent Iranian human-rights lawyer, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by a Tehran revolutionary court, according to his daughter.

Maede Soltani, who lives in Germany, said on Tuesday that her family was officially notified of last week's ruling, which came during the appeals process.

She told the Associated Press news agency that the "politically motivated" ruling could not be appealed a second time.

Abdolfattah Soltani, 58, was arrested last year.

A court in March initially sentenced him to 18 years in prison on various charges, including co-founding the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, spreading anti-government propaganda and endangering national security.

"My father was told that his sentence would be reduced [further] if he would apologise and speak out against Ms Ebadi in an open letter or an interview," Maede Soltani said.

"He declined."

'Political prisoner'

Amnesty International, the UK-based rights montor, maintains Soltani is a "non-violent political prisoner who is being jailed only for his legitimate activities'' as a human rights lawyer.

"Abdolfattah Soltani is one of the bravest human rights defenders in Iran," the group said after his detention last September, urging his immediate release.

Abdolfattah Soltani was previously arrested for seven months in 2005 and again for several months in the wake of Iran's disputed presidential elections in 2009.

The revolutionary court held the decision to transfer Soltani to a remote prison in the city of Borazjan, about 1,000 km southwest of Tehran, Maede Soltani said, adding that the family will barely be able to visit him there.

Working alongside Ebadi, Soltani also represented the family of photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian of Iranian origin who was arrested for taking photographs in front of Evin prison and died several days later in the prison, possibly after being tortured.

An investigative panel concluded Kazemi died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage caused by a "physical attack", but the findings were rejected by Iran's conservative judiciary.


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