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Ally of Iran's Ahmadinejad gets 6 years for protest

© AFP/File | Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie (L) is seen at a news conference in Tehran on May 11, 2013 with Iran's then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN (AFP) - 

A close ally of Iran's ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was handed more than six years in prison on Wednesday for protesting against the system, Iranian media reported.

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, 57, was Ahmadinejad's chief of staff during his controversial two terms as president between 2005 and 2013.

He was given one year for propaganda against the state, five years for collusion with intent to commit a crime against national security, and six months for insulting judicial officials, said Gholamhossein Esmaili, head of the Tehran prosecutor's office, according to the conservative Tasnim news agency.

Mashaie was arrested in March for burning a copy of the chargesheet against another Ahmadinejad ally, former vice-president Hamid Baghaie, who had been sentenced to 15 years for embezzlement.

Ahmadinejad, who fell out with the hardline establishment towards the end of his tenure, says the cases against his allies are politically motivated.

Since being barred by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council from another run at the presidency last year, he has taken an increasingly radical position against the system, criticising corruption and political repression.

In a letter to Khamenei in February, Ahmadinejad called for "the immediate holding of free presidential and parliamentary elections -- of course without their being engineered by the Guardian Council and without interference by military or security bodies so that people have a free choice."

He remains a hate figure for many reformists, who associate him with the bloody crackdown on mass protests in 2009 and 2010 that followed his contested re-election.

But he remains popular particularly among poorer segments of society who recall the large-scale welfare schemes he implemented during his presidency.

© 2018 AFP