Former Ebadi Staffer Sentenced to Two Years In Prison
Jinous Sobhani, former secretary of Defenders of Human Rights Center was sentenced to two years in prison. She was convicted of “acting against national security.” A member of the Baha’i Faith, Sobhani was arrested after Ashura Day events on 3 January 2010 and was released after posting bail. Sobhani’s sentencing comes a few weeks after the trial of seven Baha’i leaders whose 20-year prison sentences were reduced to 10 years each upon appeal.
Jinous Sobhani, along with her husband Artin Ghazanfari, and eight other fellow Baha’is, were arrested on the charge of participating in gatherings on Ashura. At the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in June, Mohammad Javad Larijani who headed the Iranian delegation stated that Iran’s Baha’i citizens are not subjected to arrests and that they have complete freedom. Only in the past few months, however, there has been increased pressure on the Iranian Baha’i community. In addition to prison, Baha’is are not allowed to enroll in universities and if a student is found to be a Baha’i they are expelled.
The extremist Kayhan newspaper published a piece about Sobhani’s conviction, making accusations against the Defenders of Human Rights Center and also Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, who heads the Center. One part of the news article reads, “The grouplet Defenders of Human Rights Center was launched under the direction of former US Vice President Dick Cheney by people like Abdolfattah Soltani, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Shirin Ebadi, Mohammad Sharif, Mohammad Seifzadeh, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and…Meanwhile, French and German governments have given money to Shirin Ebadi to allocate to the grouplet, and also she was asked to spend some of her phony Nobel Peace Prize money on the grouplet.”
During recent court hearings for a lawsuit Ebadi brought against Hossein Shariatmadari, Kayhan’s editor-in-chief, he was elusive in answering Ebadi’s complaints about his libelous accusations of the past several years. Meanwhile a state-run television program broadcast selective parts of the court proceedings, showing Shariatmadari’s remarks in direct violation of the neutrality necessary to cover judicial cases.