An Iranian lawyer who defended a street protester sentenced to death for murder has herself been sentenced to prison for ‘propaganda against the state’, an Iran human rights group has revealed.

The US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has condemned the imminent execution of Abbas Deris, a street protester in Iran who it says was tortured and coerced into falsely confessing to a crime. ‘This is a tragedy in the making,’ CHRI’s director Hadi Ghaemi, said. ‘The torture endured by Deris, coupled with the denial of due process rights and the absence of credible evidence against him, underscores the lawlessness of Iran’s judicial system.’

Deris, an ethnic Arab, was accused of killing an officer of the police special forces, amid state security forces’ repression of street protests in the city of Mahshahr in 2019. He was sentenced to death in October 2022 on the charge of ‘enmity against God’.

Deris’ lawyer, Fereshteh Tabanian, has faced prosecution in two separate cases brought by the authorities, the CHRI said. In one case she has been sentenced to three months in prison for ‘propaganda against the state’ while in another case she was charged with ‘membership in groups opposed to the state’ but this was dropped.

Lawyers who defend members of minority communities in court are typically subjected to particularly harsh state retribution in the Islamic Republic, the CHRI said.

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