Ghoncheh Ghavami, a British woman with Iranian citizenship, has been sentenced to serve a year in prison for attending a men’s volleyball game
A British-Iranian has been sentenced by a court in Tehran to spend a year in prison as punishment for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match.
Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, an alumni of SOAS university in London, was told her fate on Sunday by a closed court in Tehran.
Her parents were not permitted to enter the courtroom and it was not open to the public, her brother Iman told The Telegraph.
“We hoped she would be released,” he said. “She thought she had put up a good defence and was really happy with it.
“But now we’re just really disappointed and shocked.”
Mr Ghavami, 28, said that his family spent Sunday going “from office to office” to try and see whether his sister could appeal against the sentence.
Alireza Tabatabaie, Miss Ghavami’s lawyer, said he was hopeful that her sentence could be reduced for good behaviour. He said she had been found guilty of “propagating against the ruling system.”
“It doesn’t seem right,” her brother said. “When she was arrested they were immediately suspicious of her because of her dual nationality.
“She’s physically and mentally exhausted by all this. But she’s not giving up hope.”
Miss Ghavami was detained on June 20, outside Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, where she and 40 others were demanding that women be allowed in to watch a volleyball match between Iran and Italy.
She was originally released shortly after being detained by the police – but was re-arrested ten days later, when she went to collect her belongings, and then held in solitary confinement without access to her lawyer for several weeks.
During this time interrogators are said to have put Miss Ghavami under severe psychological pressure, threatening to move her to Gharchak Prison in Tehran Province where prisoners convicted of serious criminal offences are held in dismal conditions. Interrogators reportedly warned she “would not walk out of prison alive”.
In October, having been detained without trial for over 100 days, she went on a two-week hunger strike, and was joined by her mother, which lasted until she was granted a trial. She was then charged by a court in Tehran with “activities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”
Her case has been closely followed by womens’ rights campaigners around the world.
Britain, which has no permanent diplomatic presence in Iran but has said it plans to reopen its embassy soon, had previously protested against Miss Ghavami’s detention.
Iranian women in the Islamic Republic are banned from watching certain male sports events such as football and volleyball.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK director the verdict was “appalling”.
“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,” she said.
“Ghoncheh is a prisoner of conscience and the Iranian authorities should quash the sentence and release her immediately and unconditionally.
“The authorities should also investigate allegations that Ghoncheh was subjected to death threats by her interrogators and provide compensation for her arbitrary detention and her prolonged solitary confinement.”