Iran sentences jailed Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi to additional prison term

Authorities add 15 months to sentence of rights advocate and 2023 Nobel Peace Prize winner for spreading propaganda against government

After her sentence, Narges Mohammadi, pictured in 2007, will be banned from travelling abroad and owning a mobile phone for two years. AP
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A court in Iran has sentenced imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi to an additional jail term of 15 months for spreading propaganda against the government, her family said on Monday.

According to a post on Instagram by Ms Mohammadi's family, the new sentence was handed down on December 19. It said she had refused to attend the court sessions.

The verdict also said that after serving her time, Ms Mohammadi, 51, would be banned from travelling abroad for two years and would be barred from membership in political and social groups and from having a mobile phone for the same duration.

The ruling also banishes her from Tehran, meaning she would likely have to serve the new sentence in another province in Iran.

She is held in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, serving a 30-month sentence for spreading propaganda against the ruling system, disobedience in prison and defamation of authorities.

The latest verdict reflects the Iranian theocracy's anger that Ms Mohammadi was awarded the Nobel Prize last October for years of activism, despite a decades-long government campaign targeting her.

She is the 19th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the second Iranian woman, after human rights activist Shirin Ebadi in 2003.

Ms Mohammadi has kept up her activism despite numerous arrests by Iranian authorities and spending years behind bars.

In November, she went on hunger strike over being blocked along with other inmates from getting medical care and to protest against the country's mandatory headscarves for women.

Ms Mohammadi was a leading light for nationwide, women-led protests sparked by the death in September 2022 of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of the morality police.

Protests over the death of 22-year-old Ms Amini – who had been detained in Tehran for wearing her hijab “improperly” – grew into one of the most intense challenges to Iran's theocratic government.

For observant Muslim women, the head covering is a sign of piety before God and modesty in front of men outside their families.

In Iran, the hijab – and the black chador worn by some – has long been a political symbol as well, particularly after becoming mandatory in the years following the 1979 revolution that ousted the West-backed Shah.

While women in Iran hold jobs, academic positions and even government appointments, their lives are tightly controlled in part by laws like the mandatory hijab.

Iran and neighbouring, Taliban-ruled Afghanistan remain the only countries to impose mandates on this aspect of women's lives.

Since Ms Amini’s death, however, more women are choosing not to wear the headscarf, despite an increasing campaign by authorities targeting them and businesses serving them.

Updated: January 15, 2024, 2:42 PM