By Pooya Stone

The brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption, state media reported Tuesday, This is an action by Rouhani’s rival faction to maintain hegemony over Rouhani.

In fact, corruption has drastically increased under Rouhani, who came to power in 2013, while economic isolation is growing after the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal, citing Iranian noncompliance.

Rouhani’s brother, Hossein Fereydoun, was arrested in 2017 as the subject of multiple investigations, following long-running accusations of corruption.

Gholam Hossein Esmayeeli, a spokesman for the judiciary, said this week that prosecutors were still looking at an additional case regarding Fereydoun, but would not elaborate.

Fereydoun, who has held several government posts over the years, was initially accused of using his influence to put his friend, Ali Sedighi, in charge of a bank, after complaints by Naser Seraj, the head of Iran’s General Inspection Office.

Fereydoun often accompanied Rouhani to cabinet meetings and to negotiations over the 2015 nuclear deal. His arrest is seen by members of Rouhani’s government as an attempt to undermine Rouhani.

In a separate matter, Esmayeeli also said on Tuesday that the Iranian courts have sentenced one person to death and three people to 10 years each in prison for spying for the United States and Britain.

Iran arrested 17 citizens on charges of spying for the US back in July but did not name them or offer any evidence of spying. It’s not clear when those sentenced were arrested.

Esmayeeli said: “Members of the team were identified last year with strenuous efforts of the Iranian security forces and its agents were identified in Iran’s sensitive centers, including the nuclear and defense centers and the country’s public infrastructures and most of them were arrested.”

Iran’s claims were denied by the US, with Donald Trump calling the accusations “just more lies and propaganda”.

The man sentenced to death was not publicly identified, but it was reported that his case would be appealed.

The other three were named as Ali Nafariyeh, Mohammad Babapour, and Amir Nasab, with Nafariyeh also fined $55,000, which equates to the amount he was allegedly paid by the CIA to spy on Iran.

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