World

Top Iran reformer sentenced
to 6 years in jail

A top reformer has been sentenced to six years in jail after he stood trial on charges of fomenting unrest to topple the Iranian regime, his lawyer said Sunday.

Saleh Nikbakht said he planned to appeal the verdict against former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi.

He has 20 days to submit his appeal.

Abtahi made televised confessions after his arrest in which he admitted provoking people to riot. His family and fellow reformers said the confessions were obtained under duress.

Abtahi is one of more than 100 leading moderates detained after Iran's disputed June 12 presidential election. He was accused of fomenting street protests aimed at overthrowing Iran's clergy-led regime.

Abtahi served as vice president under reformist president Mohammad Khatami.

A key part of the government's strategy has been the mass trial of reformist political figures accused of supporting the post-election unrest and seeking to topple the regime through a "velvet revolution."

The trial has so far produced three death sentences.

The opposition has called the trial a "ridiculous show."

The government has been seeking to silence opposition protests that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election was fraudulent, using security forces to quell the unrest.

Thousands of people were arrested in the crackdown that crushed the mass protests that erupted last summer in support of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims the presidential election was stolen from him through massive vote fraud. It was the country's worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who openly backed Ahmadinejad's election victory, has said it is a crime to question the legitimacy of the June vote.

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