TEHRAN, Iran,(AP) – Three Iranian student leaders have been sentenced to jail terms of up to three years on vague charges of insulting Islam and its clerics, their lawyer said Wednesday.
Majid Tavakoli, Ahmed Ghassaban and Ehsan Mansouri received a three, a two-and-a-half, and a two year prison sentence, respectively, for “insulting Islamic sanctities and its authorities” in a student newsletter, their lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkah said.
All three students belong to the Office for Fostering Unity — Iran’s biggest reformist student organization.
The students will have 20 days to appeal the sentences.
“I will appeal the sentences handed down against my clients. They are innocent. There is no plausible reasons for the charges raised against them,” Dadkhah said.
Dadkhah said the three students told the court that the newsletter containing insults against an Islamic saint had been fabricated by hardliner students and attributed to reformist students in effort to defame them.
Since hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed power in 2005, reformist voices have increasingly been silenced as the government has been suppressing dissent.
Many reformist professors have also been forced to retire and reformist student leaders harassed and jailed. Ahmadinejad’s government doesn’t recognize the Office for Fostering Unity group and instead supports a hardline student association whose members have attacked peaceful student gatherings in past years.