3 years jail for Iran leader Khamenei’s niece, who panned him and ‘murderous’ regime

Farideh Moradkhani, from a branch of family that opposes supreme leader, has been in prison since last month when she declared her support for Mahsa Amini protests

Farideh Moradkhani, niece of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a video posted online criticizing her uncle's regime. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Farideh Moradkhani, niece of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a video posted online criticizing her uncle's regime. (Twitter video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The niece of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was sentenced to three years in prison after she publicly criticized the regime and expressed her support for the ongoing protests against the Islamic Republic, her lawyer said on Friday.

Farideh Moradkhani, who is part of a branch of Khamenei’s family that has long criticized the regime, was picked up by police on November 23 and has been held since.

Her lawyer Mohammad Hossein Aghasi tweeted that she was tried in a clerical court independent of the country’s judiciary and that only answers to the supreme leader, even though Moradkhani is not a cleric.

Aghasi said he was barred from attending the hearing where his client was initially sentenced to 15 years behind bars. The court did accept his appeal though and shortened her sentence to three years, he said.

Earlier this week, Badri Hosseini Khamenei — Moradkhani’s mother and a sister of the supreme leader — also declared her opposition to her brother’s regime and her solidarity with the protests that have swept the country following the killing of Mahsa Amini in Iranian police custody. In a letter publicized by her son based in France, Badri said she had cut off ties with her brother and called on him to step down. Badri is believed to still reside in Iran.

In her own video published online last month, Moradkhani blasts authorities led by her uncle as a “murderous and child-killing regime.”

Her brother posted a video on YouTube, with the link shared on Twitter, in which she condemned the “clear and obvious oppression” Iranians have been subjected to, and criticized the international community’s inaction.

“Free people, be with us! Tell your governments to stop supporting this murderous and child-killing regime,” she said. “This regime is not loyal to any of its religious principles and does not know any law or rule except force and maintaining its power in any way possible.”

Khamenei’s sister Badri fell out with her family in the 1980s and fled to Iraq at the peak of the war with Iran’s neighbor. She joined her husband, the dissident cleric Ali Tehrani.

Moradkhani has gained prominence as an anti-death penalty activist and was last arrested in January this year.

That arrest came after an October 2021 video conference in which she lavishly praised Farah Diba, the widow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was ousted by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said she was released on bail in April and her arrest last Wednesday was to begin serving an existing 15-year sentence.

A pro-government demonstrator holds a picture of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a rally after Friday prayers to condemn recent anti-government protests over the death of a young woman in police custody, in Tehran, Iran, September 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The charges were not immediately clear.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, around 14,000 people have been arrested over the protests that began after the death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest by the so-called morality police.

At least 416 people including 51 children have been killed in the crackdown, according to Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR).

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