Iranian-American academic gets 12 years for unrest

Iranian-American academi

Iran has convicted an Iranian-American academic for his alleged role in the post-election unrest in the country and sentenced him to more than 12 years in prison, the state news agency said Tuesday. Academic Kian Tajbakhsh was arrested July 9 during a violent crackdown by security forces on street protesters and Iranian opposition members rallying against the country's disputed presidential elections. The protesters claimed the June balloting was rigged in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Washington has repeatedly demanded that Teheran free Tajbakhsh, who was the only American who was part of the mass trial of Iranian opposition members. Charges against him reportedly included espionage, contacting foreign elements and acting against national security of Iran. In August, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed for the release of Tajbakhsh and he was specially named in a call by the British rock star Sting to free all political prisoners in Iran. In 2007, Tajbakhsh, a social scientist and urban planner, spent four months in prison on charges of endangering national security. He denied the allegations. The state news agency IRNA quoted his lawyer, Houshang Azhari, as confirming on Tuesday that he received the verdict. The attorney said Tajbakhsh's sentence was "more than 12 years" but that the law prohibits him from divulging further details. The sentencing came as just over one-third of Iran's parliament asked judicial authorities to prosecute opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to IRNA, 100 deputies in the 290-member parliament supported the demand in a letter to Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi. The letter was delivered by lawmaker Hamid Rasai, a zealous supporter of Ahmadinejad. Rasai reportedly made the demand to prosecute Mousavi because his statements and actions had damaged "reputation of the Islamic system." On Sunday, Mousavi said the opposition movement that began after the country's disputed presidential elections would continue. Mousavi has charged massive fraud in the June 12 election.