In a move to increase pressure on the former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a court in Iran has issued additional jail sentences for two of his close allies.
The court for government employees has convicted Ahmadinejad’s former advisor Ali Akbar Javanfekr to 2 1/2 years and his former deputy Hamid Baghaei to 6 months for “spreading lies” and “insulting” regime officials, their lawyer Mehran Abdollahpour told the news agency IRNA on Saturday.
Javanfekr had received a 4-year prison sentence early this month for “acting against national security”, and Baghaei was convicted to 15 years in prison, a cash fine, and lashes for embezzlement and illegal business transactions in December last year.
Among other things, Baghaei had been accused of pocketing millions of dollars that he had received from the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force to distribute among African leaders.
Baghaei and Javanfekr have vehemently denied charges against themselves and called their convictions politically motivated.
In the past one year, the former president has become a vocal critic of the Islamic Republic establishment, criticizing many officials and even the Supreme Leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Since his presidency ended in 2013, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies have also been in an intense conflict with Sadegh Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary and his brother Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Iranian parliament, calling them corrupt and accusing them of following orders from England.
Iran’s chief justice has been, among other things, accused of receiving millions of dollars from judiciary income in his unmonitored personal bank accounts. Unconfirmed reports also allege that Sadegh Larijani’s daughter has been charged with espionage for the British Embassy in Tehran. However, the government and judiciary have denied both allegations.
In early September, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the former vice president and chief of staff under Ahmadinejad, was also sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison after being convicted on charges including acting against national security and insulting judiciary officials.
Mashaei was arrested after he burned the court verdict against Baghaei on March 15 in a symbolic move outside the British Embassy in Tehran. Without providing any proof, he claimed that the British queen had instructed the judiciary to crack down on Ahmadinejad and his allies.
Blaming Britain for conspiracies , which goes back to the 19th century, has been common in Iranian politics and popular imagination.