Iran extends Nobel Prize winner’s prison sentence

Narges Mohammadi - Reihane Taravati/Middle East Images/AFP/Getty Images
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The imprisoned Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi has been sentenced to an additional 15 months in prison, Mohammadi’s family said in a written statement sent to CNN on Monday.

She was charged with “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic Republic regime, her family said.

The 51-year-old rights activist was awarded the Nobel in October for “her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.” That battle has come at a huge personal cost – Mohammadi has spent most of the past two decades in prison.

During her trial, she refused to attend court proceedings or participate in questioning, the family said.

On top of the extra 15 months in prison, the new sentence orders Mohammadi to “two years of exile outside Tehran and neighboring provinces,” according to her family.

Mohammadi was also given a two-year travel ban, “a two-year ban on membership in social-political groups, and a two-year ban on using a smartphone,” the statement added.

The latest sentencing is Mohammadi’s fifth conviction since 2021 and her third while incarcerated.

Mohammadi was already serving a sentence of ten years and nine months, accused of actions against national security and propaganda against the state. She was also sentenced to 154 lashes, a punishment rights groups believe has not been inflicted so far, along with restrictions on travel.

A ‘deceitful scheme against women’

In a letter written from the notorious Evin Prison in 2023 and shared with CNN, Mohammadi railed against the government’s policy of compulsory hijab, calling it a “deceitful scheme against women” and a tool “to strengthen the power of the religious government.”

Last August she was sentenced to an additional year in jail for her continued activism behind bars, after she gave a media interview and a statement about sexual assaults in prison, which she says have “significantly increased,” leading her to describe the abuse as now “systematic.”

The Iranian government has denied the widespread allegations of sexual assaults against detainees, including in an in-depth CNN investigation last year, calling them “false” and “baseless.”

Mohammadi’s new sentence comes shortly after two journalists were temporarily released on bail after being imprisoned in Iran following their coverage of the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, according to state-run media.

Convicted in October, journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi are currently awaiting a verdict on their appeals, according to Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA. The women were allowed to leave their Tehran jail on Sunday with a bail of 10 billion tomans each (nearly $200,000 each), IRNA reported. They are also banned from leaving the country, it said.

Hamedi and Mohammadi were arrested in late September 2022, after protests spread across Iran fueled by the death of 22-year-old Amini, who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police after being arrested for allegedly wearing her headscarf improperly.

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