Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus was on Monday convicted of violating labour laws in Bangladesh and sentenced to six months of imprisonment, reported AFP.

Yunus and three colleagues from Grameen Telecom, one of the firms he founded, allegedly failed to create a workers’ welfare fund in the company. A labour court, however, granted them bail pending appeals.

All four have denied the charges. “I have been punished for a crime that I haven’t committed,” Yunus told reporters after the hearing. “If you want to call it justice, you can.”

The 83-year-old and his Grameen Bank won the 2006 peace prize for their work to lift millions out of poverty by granting small loans of under $100 to the rural poor in the South Asian country, pioneering a global movement now called microcredit, reported Reuters.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, has accused Yunus, one seen as her political rival, of “sucking blood” from the poor. Yunus’ supporters allege the government is attempting to discredit him because he once considered setting up a political party to rival Hasina’s Awami League.

On Monday, Irene Khan, a United Nations special rapporteur, said the conviction was “a travesty of justice”.

“A social activist and Nobel laureate who brought honour and pride to the country is being persecuted on frivolous grounds,” she said.

Yunus is facing over 100 charges for labour law violations and corruption. He had said after one of the hearings last month that he had not profited from any of the more than 50 social business firms he had set up in Bangladesh.

“They were not for my personal benefit,” Yunus claimed.

In August, 160 global figures, including former United States President Barack Obama, had written a joint letter denouncing “continuous judicial harassment” of Yunus.