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Iranian Court Sentences Four Journalists to Jail

Four Iranian journalists were sentenced to jail on charges of acting against national security, their lawyers said on Tuesday.

The verdicts, ranging from five to 10 years, can be appealed, according to state-run media.

Officials said a woman and four men taken into custody “were working in the country’s media and social networks.”

Afarine Chitsaz, the woman journalist, received a five-year term. Davoud Assadi was given a 10-year sentence. Ehsan Mazandarani was ordered to seven years and Ehsan Safarzayi received five. The fate of the fifth journalist, Issa Saharkhiz, is unclear.

Saharkhiz served three years in prison but was released in 2013. At the time, he was convicted for insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and publishing anti-regime propaganda. In the months before his latest arrest, he allegedly criticized Khamenei and other senior figures, his lawyer said.

The four sentenced journalists have worked for newspapers, including pro-reform Farhikhtegan daily.

They were arrested in November as part of an ongoing crackdown by hard-liners — a move criticized by moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Defense attorneys said their clients would appeal the sentences.

Journalists in Iran are frequently the subject of judicial action. Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was arrested in July 2014. Rezaian holds dual Iranian-American citizenship. He was convicted last year of espionage and other charges but was freed in January as part of a prisoner swap between Iran and United states.

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