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Iran human rights activist jailed for 11 years

TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian human rights lawyer who has worked with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, has been jailed for 11 years for actions deemed “detrimental to national security,” the activist’s lawyer said Monday.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has worked to defend people accused of political crimes, was arrested in September and charged with undermining national security.

“My client has been handed an 11-year compulsory prison term, banned from practicing law for 20 years and given a 20-year ban on leaving the country,” Mahnaz Parakandeh, Sotoudeh’s attorney, told Reuters by telephone.

She was convicted of taking “hostile actions,” involvement in propaganda activities and colluding against national security, said the lawyer.

Sotoudeh was also found guilty of being a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a banned rights association founded by Nobel laureate Ebadi, Parakandeh said.

Shortly after her detention, Sotoudeh, a mother of two, went on a hunger strike, declining all liquids and food. She stopped the protest in early November.

The reformist website Kaleme quoted Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, as saying that he had expected a much lighter one. “We will have 20 days to appeal,” he said.

Khandan said he and his wife’s lawyer had also been summoned to court. “In the written summons the term ‘accused’ was used against me. In previous summons I had to defend myself for talking to the press,” he said.

Since Iran’s 2009 presidential election hundreds of reformists have been detained and put on trial in a crackdown on the pro-reform opposition.

The vote was followed by street protests, the most serious unrest since the Islamic Republic was founded in 1979. The state quashed the turmoil, blaming it on “seditionists” backed by its foreign enemies.

Mass detentions and trials followed the vote and two people were executed. The opposition says the vote was rigged but the authorities have strongly denied allegations of fraud.