Iranian–American Sociologist Sentenced to 15 years
Heavy prison sentences doled out for defendants in post-election “show-trials”
(20 October 2009) The Iranian Judiciary should rescind a 15-year prison sentence issued against Kian Tajbakhsh, a dual national Iranian-American sociologist, and order an immediate review of his case and those of others on trial or already sentenced in bogus “show trials,” the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.
Tajbakhsh was prosecuted along with over a hundred other defendants during the past two months in politically-motivated “show trials” that human rights organizations have condemned as lacking any due process or respect for minimum international standards of justice.
Tajbakhsh was not allowed access to an independent lawyer and had a court appointed lawyer, Houshang Azhari. On 20 October, Azhari told the Associated Press that Tajbakhsh’s sentence was “more than 12 years,” but he could not “divulge further details.” The Campaign has been informed that Tajbakhsh has been sentenced to a total of 15 years by the lower court.
Charges against Tajbakhsh reportedly include espionage, cooperation with an enemy government, and acting against national security. Similar charges have been brought by lower branches of the Revolutionary Courts against other detainees in previous years, including Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist originally sentenced to eight years. However Saberi’s appeals court threw out the lower court’s sentencing, rejecting the charge that the United States could be considered “an enemy government.”
“Tajbakhsh’s sentence is politically motivated and the Iranian justice system continues to demonstrate blatant double standards of justice. Tajbakhsh has been prosecuted for his beliefs and should be released immediately,” said Aaron Rhodes, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
The “show trials” have also resulted in lengthy sentences against political activists. Saeed Hajjarian was given a five-year suspended sentence. Shahab Tabatabai and Hedayat Aghaie, both reformist politicians, were each sentenced to five years in prison. Masoud Bastani, a journalist, received a five-year prison sentence. The Campaign believes these defendants have been prosecuted solely for their political beliefs and writings.
All of the above sentences are subject to review by an appeals court. The Campaign called on the head of the Judiciary, Hojatoleslam Sadiq Larijani, to put a stop to these unfair trials and immediately order an appeals court headed by politically non-partisan judges to review recent sentences and pending cases.