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Iran Joint letter – Nasrin Sotoudeh arrested

25 Aug 18 

On 13 June 2018, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested at her home in Tehran. She was transferred to prosecutor's office of Evin prison. It was reported that she was informed that she will be imprisoned for five years. Lawyers for Lawyers, together with Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, called for her immediate release.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a prominent human rights lawyer who in recent months has acted as the lawyer for women’s rights activists who protested against the compulsory veiling in Iran and were subsequently prosecuted. It was reported that during a visit to Evin prison on 17 June 2018, Ms. Sotoudeh informed her husband that her charges seem to relate to “colluding” with Shaparak Shajarizadeh. Ms. Shajarizadeh is one of the women Ms. Sotoudeh was representing in a case brought against a number of individuals who had protested against compulsory veiling, while they were in the prosecutor’s office in Kashan, Isfahan province.

Recently, Nasrin Sotoudeh has spoken out against the application of a Note to Article 48 of Iran’s 2015 Code of Criminal Procedure. The Note to Article 48 denies individuals facing some offences, including those related to national security, the right to access an independent lawyer of their own choosing during the investigation of their charges. Instead, individuals can only select from a roster of pre-approved lawyers chosen by the Head of the Judiciary. The Head of the Judiciary issued a list with only 20 people pre-approved for Tehran province.

This is not the first time Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested. In 2010, Nasrin Sotoudeh was given a prison sentence of eleven years and banned from working as a lawyer or leaving the country for twenty years. After she appealed, her prison sentenced was reduced to 6 years. Nasrin Sotoudeh remained in prison for three years under charges of 'spreading propaganda' and 'conspiring to harm state security'. Nasrin Sotoudeh was finally released in September 2013 after receiving a pardon.

Prior to her detention 2010, Nasrin Sotoudeh represented many of the human rights activists who were arrested after the presidential elections in June 2009. She also defended Shirin Ebadi, the human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate who co-founded the Defenders for Human Rights Center. She also acted as lawyer of the Iranian-Dutch Zahra Bahrami, who was executed in Iran on 29 January 2011.

Lawyers for Lawyers fears that the recent arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh is related to her activities in the defence of human rights, particularly her work as a human rights lawyer. Together with Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, we called for her immediate release.

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