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Middle East
Senior Iranian cleric sentenced
Senior Iranian reformer to face a jail term following election protests in Iran.
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2009 21:53 GMT
Abtahi joins thousands of people arrested during protests over June's presidential election [AFP]

A former Iranian vice-president has been sentenced to six years in jail after being accused of inciting unrest following the country’s presidential elections in June.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi now has three weeks to submit his appeal, and has been released after paying a $700,000 bail.

Abtahi, who served under the administration of Mohammad Khatami from 1997 to 2005, is the most senior reformer to face imprisonment following the elections.

He was found guilty of charges that included "plotting against the country's security, propaganda against the regime, insulting the president and participating in an illegal demonstration".

Saleh Nikbakht, his lawyer, said he has 20 days to submit an appeal against the verdict.

Nazanin Ansari, the editor of Kayhan newspaper, based in London, said: "They are playing a cat-and-mouse game with the opposition ... it is not as if Abtahi has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bail and is free to leave prison, he is not and will not be a free man."

The re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad caused extensive protests by Iranians who felt the vote was fraudulent.

Many people were reported killed in the government crackdown and at least 1,000 political activists, journalists and other were detained.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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