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Six-Year Prison Sentence Upheld Against Iranian Journalist Who Was Denied Right to Fair Trial


Source: Center for Human Rights in Iran

An Appeals Court in Tehran has upheld a six-year prison sentence against political journalist Hamed Aynehvand without holding a hearing, his lawyer, Hossein Bayat, informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on August 13, 2019.

Hamed Aynehvand

"Before the preliminary court's decision, there were people who told me not to bother because for sure Hamed was going to get six years in prison and the Appeals Court would go along with it," he told CHRI. "And that's what happened."

Charged with "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion against national security," Aynehband will be eligible for parole in five years.

"Hamed's appeal hearing was supposed to take place on July 9," Bayat said. "On that day, Hamed was brought from prison and I was there, too, but the staff at Branch 36 of the Appeals Court said that based on the authority given to the judiciary chief by the supreme leader, there was no need to convene an appeal hearing."

"Nevertheless, I insisted on going inside," he added. We were allowed into the courtroom for about four or five minutes but there was no reading of the charges and no opportunity to present a defense."

The attorney said a court official had promised to try to reduce Aynehvand's sentence to three years in prison so that he could be released on parole after two years but "that didn't materialize and the sentence was upheld without change."

"When someone is accused of national security crimes, he is pitted against the entire state, but then, in addition to that, you take away his right to defend himself in the Appeals Court," Bayat said. "Meanwhile his preliminary trial, held behind closed doors and the without a jury, was in violation of the Constitution and judicial procedures."

A freelance journalist focusing on political and judicial affairs in the country, Bayat has been behind bars since agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' intelligence organization arrested him on June 28, 2018, as he was leaving the National Library in Tehran.

Aynehvand wrote for several media outlets, including the government newspaper, Iran, and news sites based abroad including Iran Global and Zeitoon.

"My client has been denied a fair judicial process," his lawyer told CHRI. "He was unlawfully incarcerated for about a year and a half and now that his sentence has been upheld, nothing can be done."

Bayat added: "In his preliminary trial, I was not allowed in the courtroom with the excuse that my client and I didn't have a financial arrangement. So Hamed had to present a defense by himself and was denied the only legal support afforded under the law."

"I explained that because of my friendship and family ties with Hamed, there was no financial contract between us and I was not going to charge him for my legal services but the judge didn't accept that," he said.

The attorney continued: "The judicial procedures completely sidelined me as a lawyer and I didn't have any meaningful impact on my client's case. Whether I had presented a defense or not, it wouldn't have made any difference. Hamed's sentence was issued in advance and it was destined to be upheld as is."

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