AFP: Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani said on Tuesday he had been sentenced to five years in jail on charges of disclosing confidential information and opposing the regime. TEHRAN, July 18, 2006 (AFP) – Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani said on Tuesday he had been sentenced to five years in jail on charges of disclosing confidential information and opposing the regime.
Soltani, a colleague of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, was arrested a year ago while defending two people accused of spying on the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme. The judiciary said he had shared confidential case details with outsiders.
“I have been cleared off spying charges, but received four years for disclosing confidential documents and one year for propaganda against the system,” Soltani told AFP.
The lawyer said he was still allowed to stay out of prison on bail pending his appeal of the verdict, which he complained had been issued without him or his lawyers being invited to any hearing.
“Neither me nor my lawyers were called for the court session mentioned in the verdict. We were unable to defend my case because we never saw the main evidence listed in the indictment,” he said.
He also claimed that in Iran, “most of the important, political cases” were subject to a “behind the scenes will for such cases to have a certain fate.”
After his arrest last July, Soltani spent more than seven months behind bars — out of which he said 43 days were in solitary confinement — but was granted bail of one billion rials (109,000 dollars) in March.
Soltani, a member of Ebadi’s Defenders of Human Rights Center, has taken on a series of high-profile cases.
He represented journalist Akbar Ganji — one of the country’s most prominent dissidents — as well as the family of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, who was killed in custody in 2003.