Iran Sentences German And British Dual Nationals To More Than 10 Years In Prison

An Iranian Revolutionary Court has sentenced two dual nationals, German-Iranian Nahid Taghavi and British-Iranian Mehran Raouf, to more than 10 years in prison.

The defendants’ lawyer, Mostafa Nili, on August 4 announced the verdict on Twitter.

"Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Ms. Nahid Taghavi and Mr. Mehran Raouf to 10 years in prison for participating in the management of an illegal group and to eight months in prison for propaganda activities against the regime," Nili wrote.

The sentences can be appealed.

Iran’s judiciary has not publicly confirmed the sentences, which were delivered behind closed doors.

Mariam Claren, Taghavi’s daughter, acknowledged the sentence against her mother, saying she was innocent and " thousand[s of] other political prisoners."

Taghavi, 66, was arrested in Tehran in October while on a family visit and spent nearly five months in solitary confinement in the capital's notorious Evin prison, in a case rights groups say amounts to politically motivated hostage taking.

Taghavi, a trained architect who lived in the German city of Cologne for nearly four decades, was active in supporting women's rights and freedom of expression in Iran, according to the Germany rights group IGFM.

Germany's Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the case, but that it had only limited access to Taghavi.

The New York-based Center for Human Rights In Iran condemned the sentence for Taghavi and Raouf and said they added to growing concerns over a worsening human rights situation in Iran.

"To condemn two peaceful, elderly people to prison under sham charges at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is raging throughout the country reveals the cruelty of the Iranian judicial system," Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the rights group said in a statement.

"These sentences indicate that the Iranian security establishment isn’t content with unlawfully harassing, jailing, and muzzling people, it also wants to endanger their lives," he added.

The human rights group Amnesty International has said Taghavi is a political prisoner whose right to a fair trial had been denied.

Raouf, a 64-year-old labor rights activist who lived between Iran and Britain, was arrested in Tehran last October, according to Amnesty.

Amnesty said in February that Raouf was being held in "prolonged solitary confinement, in violation of the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment."

In recent years, Iranian authorities have jailed dozens of dual nationals, including journalists, academics, and human rights defenders.

Rights activists accuse Iran of trying to win concessions from other countries through such arrests. Tehran, which does not recognize dual nationality, denies holding people for political reasons.

"The noticeable accumulation of cases in which dual nationals are imprisoned without specific allegations of offenses indicates that the intent is to put pressure on the governments concerned," said Dieter Karg, an Iran expert at Amnesty International in Germany, in February.

With reporting by AFP, AP, dpa, and Reuters