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Iran Court Upholds 58 Years Prison Term For Eight Environmentalists

Iranian Environment activists who have been sentenced to a total of 58 years in prison (from top-left clockwise): Sam Rajabi, Houman Jowkar, Niloufar Bayani, Morad Tahbaz, Morteza Arianejad, Taher Ghadirian, Amir Hossein Khaleghi, and Sepideh Kashani.

Iran's Judiciary Spokesman on Tuesday said the Court of Appeals has affirmed the total sentence of 58 years in prison for eight environmentalists who have been in detention since February 2018.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday Gholamhossein Esmaili said the case of the environmentalists "is a case of acting against national security".

Esmaili said the environmentalists have been sentenced to prison terms and "payment of money they received from the U.S. government" for collaboration with the United States and added that several other people have been sentenced in the same case.

All of the eight are members of the renowned Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF), a private non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of wildlife in Iran.

The Judiciary, hardliner politicians and the Revolutionary Guard accuse them of espionage without presenting any evidence despite the public announcement of the Head of the Department of Environment, Isa Kalantari, and even the Intelligence Ministry that there is no evidence to support such charges.

The environmentalists accused of espionage and acting against national security were held in detention for months without indictment, some in solitary confinement and tried a year later by Tehran Revolutionary Court behind closed doors.

Professor Seyed-Emami, the founder of PWHF, died under suspicious circumstances in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran two days after his arrest.

Iran's judiciary claimed the 65-year-old professor of sociology had committed suicide because of evidence of espionage against him but his family and acquaintances and human rights defenders have always refuted the claim.

According to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), one of the Tehran-based lawyers representing the family has revealed that the autopsy result was never made public but a preliminary state medical examiner’s report "showed evidence of an injection on his skin" as well as “bruises on different parts of the body.”

Niloufar Bayani, Hooman Jowkar, Sepideh Kashani and her husband Taher Qadirian, Amir Hossain Khaleqi, Sam Rajabi, Amir-Hossein Khaleqi, Abdolreza Kouhpayeh, Iranian-American businessman Morad Tahbaz, Iranian-Canadian Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami were arrested on February 6, 2018 by the Revolutionary Guard.