Iran sentences 3 opposition activists to prison

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has sentenced three prominent political activists to six years in prison each for involvement in the country's post-election turmoil, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday.

The three are among more than 100 opposition figures who were put on a mass trial in the wake of the country's disputed June presidential elections. The trial has led to a dozen death sentences so far.

IRNA said the activists — Mohsen Mirdamadi, Mostafa Tajzadeh and Davood Soleimani — were convicted of spreading propaganda against Iran. The court also banned them from any kind of political activity for 10 years.

The Iranian opposition, led by Mir Hossein Mousavi, charges that the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent and that Mousavi was the rightful winner.

As part of its anti-opposition campaign, the government on Monday revoked licenses for two opposition parties.

Mahmoud Abbaszadeh Meshkini, head of the Interior Ministry's political department, said the two are the Islamic Iran Participation Front, or IIPF, which is the largest opposition group, and the reformist Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization. All the three activists reported sentenced belonged to IIPF.

The two parties publicly supported Mousavi in June's presidential election. They were prominent in Iran's parliament during former President Mohammad Khatami's administration but were later barred from running in parliament elections in 2004 and 2008. They have been considered influential in shaping reformist strategies in the past years.

The move was not unexpected after the government suggested last month the parties would be banned.

Ali Shakourirad, a senior leader of the IIPF, said the decision doesn't mean the party will stop its activities.

"Until there is a court ruling, no one can stop the political activities of a party," Shakourirad was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying Monday.

In the latest developments in the government push to silence reformist voices, a pro-reform newspaper was ordered shut down over charges of questioning the election and criticizing government officials.

The semi-official Fars news agency reported on Monday that the Press Supervisory Board ordered the Bahar daily closed for "spreading doubts on fundamental issues such as elections, questioning the pillars of the system and libel against state officials."

It didn't provide further details, but government closure of media outlets has become common in the past decade, during which time more than 120 independent and liberal newspapers and magazines have been banned.

Since the post-election crisis, authorities have primarily targeted newspapers critical of Ahmadinejad over vague charges of insulting authorities.


Associated Press Writer Ali Akbar Dareini contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.