TEHRAN: Six environmental conservationists accused of “spying” on Iranian military sites have received sentences of up to 10 years in prison, according to state news agency IRNA and Shargh daily.
Sentences “from four to 10 years” have been issued for some of the case’s suspects, IRNA quoted judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaili as saying.
Mohammad Hossein Aghasi, a lawyer who represents some of the defendants, told Shargh daily that six of the eight have had their sentences handed down.
Aghasi, however, was not present in court as the state has designated its own hand-picked lawyers to represent the defendants.
He told Shargh daily that Niloufar Bayani and Morad Tahbaz had received 10-year sentences, while Taher Ghadirian and Houman Jokar had been given eight years and Amirossein Khaleghi and Sepideh Kashani six years.
“Sam Rajabi and Abdolreza Kouhpayeh’s sentences are yet to be announced,” he added.
The defendants were among conservationists working with the local environmental group Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation to track endangered species.
They were arrested in early 2018 over allegations of espionage, but four of them were later charged with “corruption on earth”— one of the most severe charges under Iran’s law, which would carry the death penalty.
The death row charge was dropped last month, though the defendants still face other security-related charges.
Another environmentalist arrested last year, Kavous Seyed Emami, a 63-year-old renowned university professor with dual Iranian and Canadian citizenship, allegedly committed suicide in prison in February 2018, a fortnight after his arrest.
His widow, Maryam Mombeini, left Iran for Canada last month and was reunited with her two sons after being unable to leave for months, according to Canadian officials.