Iran jails two Kurdish journalists


The Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports:

TEHRAN – Iranian Kurdish journalists Abdolvahed Hiva Botimar and Adnan Hassanpour have been jailed on charges involving possession of military grade weapons and providing information on military bases, their lawyer Saleh Nikbakht said on Saturday.

“Botimar was sentenced by the revolutionary court in Sanandaj to 11 years in prison for possession and sale of military grade weapons and Hassanpour to 10 years … for disclosing information on military bases,” Saleh Nikbakht said.

Revolutionary courts deal with crimes against national security.

“Their conviction is not related to their journalistic activities,” he said, without providing details on the crimes.

“Even if they have committed these acts, the sentence pronounced against them is huge,” he added, saying he would appeal both verdicts.

Botimar and Hassanpour had been sentenced to death for the crimes in July 2007.
Last summer, however, the head of the judiciary agreed to a retrial for Hassanpour, and last winter the supreme court quashed Botimar’s sentence.

The cases were then referred to the revolutionary court.

Iran has been battling separatist rebels in its western Kurdish-populated areas. It has repeatedly accused the United States of seeking to stir up ethnic unrest by providing material support to rebels, who have bases in neighbouring northeastern Iraq.

Also reporting on Mr. Adnan Hassanpour, Newswatch:

Adnan Hassanpour, a Kurdish journalist whose death sentence was quashed in August 2008, was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison by the court in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj that retried his case, Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has learnt from his family.

The death sentence was passed on Hassanpour on July 16, 2007 by a revolutionary tribunal in Marivan, in Iran’s Kurdish northwestern region, which found him guilty of subversive activities against national security, espionage and separatist propaganda. After first confirming the sentence on October 22, 2007, the supreme court in Tehran quashed it in August 2008 on procedural grounds. It said Hassanpour could not be regarded as “mohareb” (and enemy of God).

The case was returned to an ordinary court in Sanandaj for retrial. After hearing the case on September 6, 2008 and January 30, 2009, the court issued its sentence Wednesday. Hassanpour, who has staged two hungerstrikes in protest against the conditions in which he is being held, is currently in the main Sanandaj prison.

“This sentence is absurd and baseless,” RSF reacted. “One day, this journalist is sentenced to death. Two years later he gets a ten-year sentence. We reiterate our call for his immediate release.”

Aged 27, he was arrested outside his home on January 25, 2007, and was initially imprisoned in Mahabad, which is also in Iranian Kurdistan. He wrote about the very sensitive Kurdish issue for the magazine Asou, which has been banned by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance since August 2005. He also worked for foreign media such as Voice of America and Radio Farda, which broadcasts in Farsi to Iran.