Activist Fatemeh Sepehri
Iran's judiciary has confirmed an 18-year prison sentence for activist Fatemeh Sepehri, an outspoken critic of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after calling on him to resign.
In February, Asghar Sepehri, Sepehri's brother, wrote on Twitter that his sister had informed him during a phone call from prison that the Islamic Revolutionary Court had handed her the sentence.
He said the sentence includes 10 years for propaganda activities against the Islamic republic, five years for cooperation with hostile governments, two years for insulting the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, and one year for gathering and conspiring against national security. On March 23, Dostali Makki, Fateme Sepehari's lawyer, said the sentence had been confirmed by the court and that the sentence would be implemented. Makki added that the court did not accept his representation of Sepehri, thus keeping them from appealing the initial verdict. According to the laws of the Islamic republic, if a convict is sentenced to several prison sentences in one case, the longest prison sentence will be implemented. In this case, Sepehri must spend the next 10 years in prison. Sepehri is one of 14 activists in Iran who have publicly called for Khamenei to step down. She has been arrested and interrogated several times in recent years. She and the other activists have also called for a new political system within the framework of a new constitution that would secure dignity and equal rights for women. Criticism of Khamenei, who has the last say on almost every decision in Iran, is considered a red line in Iran, and his critics often land in prison, where political prisoners are routinely held in solitary confinement and subjected to various forms of torture. Sepehri was arrested by security forces on September 21, at the beginning of nationwide protests in Iran over the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was taken into custody by Iran's morality police for allegedly violating the country's hijab law. She died while in detention. Since the unrest erupted, lawmakers and security officials have threatened harsher and harsher treatment for protesters and anyone expressing dissent. Human rights groups say the crackdown has left more than 500 people dead and hundreds more injured. Several people have been executed.