Iranian journalist gets prison term, desert exile
An Iranian journalist lost an appeal Sunday against his conviction on charges of spreading propaganda against the ruling Islamic establishment and was sentenced to six years in prison and five years of internal exile in a remote desert town, AP reported.
The court also confirmed a lifelong ban on political activity for the prominent reporter, Ahmad Zeidabadi, who was also once a student activist.
Zeidabadi was among more than 100 political figures and activists tried together in the aftermath of Iran's disputed presidential election, which the opposition says was rigged to give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another term in office.
The mass trial and a crackdown on street demonstrations has failed to silence the opposition movement, which has also confronted Iran's clerical leaders and demanded greater social and political freedoms.
Iran's interior minister said on Sunday that he has ordered police to show no leniency to anyone who turns up at opposition protests.
At least eight people died during anti-government protests in cities across Iran on Dec. 27, including a nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. It was the worst bloodshed since the height of the unrest in the weeks immediately after the June election.
While on trial, Zeidabadi went on a nine-day hunger strike in August and had to be hospitalized, a pro-reform Web site reported at the time.
The 44-year-old Zeidabadi led a group of reformists who were once members of Iran's largest student organization, the Office for Fostering Unity.
His wife, Mahdieh Mohammadi, said her husband's lawyer informed her of the appeals court's ruling on Sunday. As part of his sentence, he will have to spend five years in internal exile in the town of Gonabad, about 620 miles - or 1,000 kilometers - east of the capital, on the edge of the second-largest desert in Iran, the Namak desert, his wife told The Associated Press.