A son of a prominent Iranian opposition figure has accused Iran’s leaders of persecuting his family by sentencing his brother to six months in prison for distributing propaganda against the government.
Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, speaking to VOA Persian by phone from Britain on Tuesday, said the six-month sentence imposed on his brother Mohammad Hossein Karroubi has “no legal basis” and is designed to “pressure” their family. Both men are sons of former Iranian parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi, a cleric who has been under house arrest in Iran since 2011 for supporting protests against the results of the country’s 2009 presidential election. Karroubi and other opposition figures denounced the vote as rigged by the country’s ruling conservatives to re-elect then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran’s state-run ILNA news agency reported the sentencing of Hossein Karroubi on the anti-government propaganda charge on Monday, citing his lawyer Mohammad Jalilian. Hossein Karroubi had distributed an open letter written by his father to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in April 2016 – a letter in which the former speaker appealed for a public trial to resolve his years of detention under house arrest.
"The only ‘crime’ committed by my father was to ask for a public trial in the form of a letter to President Rouhani,” Taghi Karroubi told VOA. “I don't think making such a request public should have legal consequences for anyone." He sent out a tweet on Monday saying his father’s April 2016 letter has yet to receive a response from the Iranian government.
Karroubi unsuccessfully campaigned for president in the disputed 2009 election as part of the pro-reform Green movement. Another pro-reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and his wife, women’s rights advocate Zahra Rahnavard, also were put under house arrest in 2011. None of the three dissidents has faced any formal charges.
Jalilian said his client, Hossein Karroubi, will appeal the six-month prison term.
There was no immediate comment from the Iranian judiciary on the case, and it was not clear when an appeal will be filed or whether Hossein Karroubi will be detained in the interim.