Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year old British-Iranian woman, has been sentenced to one year of prison in Iran for participating in a protest against the country’s ban on women watching volleyball matches.
The prison sentence was reported by Iranian media outlets and confirmed to The Associated Press by Ghavami’s lawyer, who said the charge was “propagating against the ruling system [spreading propaganda against the state].”
Ghavami was arrested and allegedly beaten in June for joining a protest outside a sports stadium in Tehran. She and other demonstrators were released after several hours, but Ghavami was arrested again 10 days later when she returned to the detention center to collect some of her belongings.
“We wanted to go to the stadium together. We wanted to go sit on those chairs to scream and cheer for our national team,” Shiva Nazar Ahari, an activist who protested with Ghavami that day, later wrote of the incident.
Earlier this month, after having spent weeks in solitary confinement, Ghavami went on a hunger strike to protest her treatment in prison. She finally got her day in court in mid-October, nearly four months after the original arrest, but the long-delayed verdict wasn’t what her family and supporters had hoped.
“We’re disappointed and kind of shocked. We really hoped she’d be released,” Ghavami’s brother Iman said.
Iman Ghavami has set up a Change.org petition to free his sister from prison; at the time of this writing, it has attracted more than 700,000 supporters. Amnesty International also has a pageurging supporters to take action.
“It’s an outrage that a young woman is being locked up simply for peacefully having her say about how women are discriminated against in Iran,” Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s UK director, said in a statement. “Ghoncheh is a prisoner of conscience and the Iranian authorities should quash the sentence, and release her immediately and unconditionally.”
The British Foreign Office has also issued a statement about the reported prison sentence for Ghavami.
“We have concerns about the grounds for this prosecution, due process during the trial and Miss Ghavami’s treatment whilst in custody,” the office said, according to the BBC.
Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, and considers “dual nationals” to be Iranians, according to Reuters.
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