'She has not broken a single law:' Brother of woman imprisoned for attending a volleyball game in Iran speaks out

Video: Ghoncheh Ghavami's brother also questioned why she was being held in one of Iran's 'most notorious' prisons

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The Independent Online

The brother of the British-Iranian woman who was sentenced to prison for attempting to go to a men's volleyball game in Tehran has said he does not think his sister broke any Iranian law and that his family were shocked and devastated by her sentence.

Ghoncheh Ghavami was sentenced to one year in prison, her lawyer said on Sunday.

25-year old Ghoncheh Ghavami was found guilty of "propagating against the ruling system," according to her lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei.

Tabatabaei claims he has seen the text of the verdict, but is still waiting for the official sentencing.

Ghavami, a budding lawyer with both Iranian and British citizenship, was detained in June at a Tehran's Freedom Stadium after trying to attend a men's volleyball match between Iran and Italy.

Women are banned from attending male-only matches in Iran and Ghavami tried to enter the match with around a dozen other women to protest the ban, according to Amnesty International.

However, her brother, Iman Ghavami, said he did not believe she had broken the law and that he thought her dual citizenship might have played a part in her arrest and sentencing.

"I don’t think she broke a single law on that day. Iranian law. That's what we're sure of," he said in an interview.

"We know that when she was arrested the authorities they were quite suspicious of her dual citizenship. That's what my sister understands from the interrogations. The questions were kind of surrounding the volleyball match itself but I still don't believe that she would be kept there for that long in that prison in that section of the prison just for wanting to watch a volleyball match."

Ghavami is being held in Tehran's Evin jail, which is known for holding political prisoners and journalists.

She began a hunger strike earlier this month over her detention, Amnesty says.

28-yearold Iman Ghavami said his family had been 'trying every possible channel inside Iran' to try to get his sister released and said that authorities were holding her in the "most horrible section of that prison".

"Her detention is a temporary one and for a charge which is propaganda against the regime and it is a kind of a very light charge. She was kept in solitary confinement for 41 days, which is quite unusual that they would keep someone with that kind of charge in that kind of section and in those kind of conditions".

Ghavami's brother also criticised how long authorities had taken to make a decision, leaving his sister in jail for the past 127 days.

"During this whole process, every one of us in the family, and my sister herself, they have been kind of punished multiple times really. We were really hoping that three weeks ago on the day of her court hearing that she would be released with time served or at least on bail, but it didn't happen. They kept delaying the issuing of the verdict and even now they haven't made it official and just the lawyer has been able to see the actual verdict on paper in a private meeting with the judge."

Additional reporting from AP