A Tehran defence lawyer, Amirsalar Davoudi, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for social media posts in the latest clampdown on the independent legal profession, a US-based human rights group said today. He is the third known defence lawyer to be sent to prison in Iran for peaceful activities in less than a year, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement.

Davoudi's wife Tannaz Kolahchian tweeted news of the sentence on 1 June. He must serve 15 years according to Article 134 of the country’s Islamic Penal Code (subject to appeal). CHRI director Hadi Ghaemi described the sentence as 'another example of the judiciary and security establishment’s egregious assault on the legal profession and due process rights in Iran'.  

Davoudi was convicted by the revolutionary court in Tehran on four charges: 'collaborating with an enemy state through interviews', 'propaganda against the state', 'insulting officials', and 'forming a group to overthrow the state'. According to CHRI, the 'group' is a reference to a messaging app channel, on which Davoudi posted his views about political and social affairs as well as items related to civil rights issues in the country.

On 2 June, Davoudi’s lawyer Vahid Meshgani Farahani stated in an interview that Davoudi was also sentenced to pay a fine of 60 million rials (£1,100) and abstain from social media for two years. Davoudi has been in detention since his arrest on 20 November 2018.

Davoudi's sentencing comes amid growing international outrage at the treatment of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, sentenced to 38 years and 148 lashes after she defended women protesting against Iran's hijab laws. In addition to Davoudi and Sotoudeh, Mohammad Najafi is currently serving a three-year prison sentence and facing a total of 19 years behind bars, the CHRI said. 

Since 2017, detainees held on national security-related charges in Iran, including defence lawyers, have been required to choose their counsel from a list approved by Iran’s chief justice.