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Iran sentences rapper to more than six years in prison over protests, supporters say

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – Iran has sentenced a popular rapper to six years and three months in prison over his participation in protests that rocked the country last year, his supporters said yesterday.

A social media account run by supporters of Toomaj Salehi announced the sentence, as did Ye-One Rhie, a member of the German Parliament who has campaigned on his behalf. There was no immediate word from Iranian authorities.

Salehi was among thousands of mostly young Iranians who took to the streets last fall as protests spread across the country. Salehi expressed support for the protests in songs and videos that were widely circulated online.

Authorities launched a heavy crackdown in which over 500 people were killed and nearly 20,000 arrested, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that closely monitored the unrest. Authorities have said many of those detained were released or given reduced sentences.

The protests largely died down earlier this year, but there are still widespread signs of discontent.

Iran has executed a total of seven people in connection with the protests, accusing them of attacking security forces.