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Volleyball woman jailed in Iran declares hunger strike

London: A British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran after trying to watch a volleyball match is on a hunger strike, refusing food or liquids, her brother told AFP yesterday. Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old law graduate from London, is protesting against a judicial delay in making her one-year prison sentence official, her brother said.

"She's been on hunger strike from Saturday," Iman Ghavami said in a phone interview. "She's not eating any solid foods and she's not drinking any liquids." Ghavami said that his sister was "frustrated" at her detention without an official sentence. "The case is in limbo.

The investigation is over and the case is closed and the verdict is decided," he said. "I don't understand why they don't want to issue the verdict when they have made the decision. It's quite concerning for us. They have no legal basis to have her detained.

" Last month a court sentenced Ghavami to a year in jail, according to the family. She was arrested after attempting to attend a men's volleyball match between Iran and Italy in Tehran in June. Female fans and women journalists were told they could not attend, leading to a brief protest. Woman are banned from attending volleyball and football matches in Iran, which officials say protects them from lewd behaviour.

No reason was given for her sentencing, but Ghavami was accused of spreading anti-regime propaganda, a broad charge often used by the Iranian judiciary. Officials have said that Ghavami was arrested for security reasons unrelated to the sporting event. Ghavami previously went on hunger strike for two weeks before her sentencing, when she was detained for months before going on trial behind closed doors.

Her case has drawn international attention, described by Amnesty International as "appalling". The British Foreign Office has raised concerns about the court's ruling as well as "grounds for this prosecution, due process during the trial and Miss Ghavami's treatment while in custody".

Ghavami's family have said that at least 41 days of her detention before trial were spent in solitary detention. The case comes as Iran is under pressure for its human rights record, after the easing of Iran's international isolation with the election of moderate Hassan Rouhani as president.

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