Iran sentences labour leader to five years imprisonment

Mansoor Osanloo, leader of the Tehran bus drivers union, who has been imprisoned for months after being kidnapped on the street by police has just been sentenced by Iran's judiciary.

Submitted by mobarez on November 1, 2007

An Iranian court has sentenced a dissident labor leader to five years in jail, a judiciary official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Mansoor Osanloo, who runs a union grouping bus drivers, was detained in July for "distributing statements against the system". Western rights groups say Iran has launched a crackdown on dissenting voices, although Tehran denies this.

"This verdict is certain and he is currently serving his jail sentence," Hassan Haddad, deputy prosecutor in Tehran, was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency, without giving details of the charges. Iran's judiciary says Osanloo's union is an illegal organization.

Haddad was quoted as saying about the case in August: "I told Osanloo 'your behavior creates problems for the country's security' ... Because he has traveled abroad he thinks he can do whatever he wants."

Rights groups and Western governments say Iran this year has launched a fresh crackdown on dissent in the Islamic Republic, with the authorities targeting women's rights activists, students, journalists and labor figures.

The European Union last week said it was "deeply concerned at the growing repression against all groups which exercise their right to freely express their opinions ... in the Islamic Republic." Iran rejects accusations it is violating human rights and the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says it supports free speech and welcomes constructive opposition.