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Appeal court upholds 11-year jail term for Kurdish journalist

(RSF/IFEX) - A Tehran appeal court has upheld the 11-year prison sentence that was imposed on journalist Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand for creating a human rights organisation in Iran's Kurdish northwest. Under Iranian law, sentences of more than 10 years in prison cannot be the subject of appeals to the Supreme Court.

His lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, told Reporters Without Borders he would refer the case to the head of the judicial system, Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, after which there would be no further legal recourse.

"The national security charges brought against Kabovand are baseless," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is absurd to regard the defence of human rights as an attack on national security. This is just a clumsy pretext for silencing a journalist who had for a long time been writing about discrimination against minorities in Iran."

The press freedom organisation added: "This journalist's most basic rights have been flouted, beginning with his right to appropriate medical treatment. The Iranian authorities are responsible for the health of their detainees. Kabovand urgently needs to be allowed out of prison for a medical examination."

Kabovand, who has been held in Tehran's Evin prison since July 2007, is suffering from prostate pains and has not yet been granted permission to receive treatment outside the prison. His wife, Parinaz Hassani, told Reporters Without Borders that she has not been allowed to visit him since 24 September 2008.

In its ruling, issued on 23 October, the appeal court upheld Kabovand's conviction on a charge of "activity against national security" but dismissed a second charge of "publicity against the government." It did not however reduce the sentence he received in June.

In an unrelated case, 10 journalists who were about to leave for the United States to cover the 4 November presidential election were detained on 25 October at Tehran international airport. Their passports were confiscated and they were ordered to report to the ministry of intelligence.

Updates the Kabovand case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94823

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