Iran sentenced eight environmental activists, including an Iranian who reportedly also has British and US citizenship, to prison sentences ranging from four to 10 years on charges of spying for the US and acting against Iran’s national security, the judiciary said yesterday.
An appeals court issued the final verdicts, Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said.
Two of the activists, Morad Tahbaz and Niloufar Bayani, received 10 years each and were ordered to return the money they allegedly received from the US government for their services.
Tahbaz is an Iranian who also holds US and British citizenship.
Iran does not recognize dual or multiple nationalities, meaning Iranians it detains cannot receive consular assistance from their other countries. In most cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings before Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.
Esmaili said the two other activists, Houman Jokar and Taher Ghadirian, each received eight-year sentences for allegedly “collaborating with the hostile government of America.”
Another three — Sam Rajabi, Sepideh Kashan Doust and Amirhossein Khaleghi Hamidi — were sentenced to six years in prison each.
The eighth activist, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, got four years.
All the activists were arrested in early 2018.
A ninth activist who was arrested at the time, Kavous Seyed Emami, an Iranian-Canadian national, died while in custody under disputed circumstances in February 2018.
His widow was then blocked from flying out of Iran, but later made it out.
A German held in Iran has been released as part of a prisoner swap for an Iranian held in Germany on suspicion of breaching US sanctions, Esmaili told a televised news conference yesterday.
“We announced that we are ready to [release] this German national ... on condition that they [the Germans] do not extradite our citizen to America,” Esmaili said.
“On Sunday ... the Iranian national left Germany and entered Iran, and on Monday ... we released the German national,” he said.
The unidentified German had been detained “for some time” for “taking photos and videos” in areas without authorization, and had been serving a three-year prison sentence, he said.
The German was swapped for Iranian Ahmad Khalili, who the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said was detained in Germany “on the pretext of violating the illegal and cruel sanctions of the United States.”
Khalili was freed on Sunday night after “intensive diplomatic consultations,” and cooperation involving the judiciary and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence service, ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.
He returned to Iran together with Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif, who last week attended a security conference in the German city of Munich, Mousavi added.
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