Iran Human rights lawyer arrested and convicted because of forming the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) and taking on politically sensitive cases
Abdolfattah Soltani works in Teheran, where he acted on behalf of journalist Akbar Ganji (Ganji exposed the involvement of government officials in the murders of intellectuals and journalists, and was arrested on charges of endangerment of national security) and the family of the Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, who was tortured and murdered in prison in 2003.
Soltani was arrested in July 2005, a week after saying at a hearing in the Kazemi case that Kazemi had been in the custody of state police when she was murdered, reproaching the authorities and claiming that they were protecting the people responsible. Shirin Ebadi, with whom Soltani worked on the case, was openly threatened that same week by the judicial authorities. On 6 March 2006 Soltani was released on bail.
On 16 July 2006 Soltani was sentenced to prison for five years. Soltani had disclosed secret information from clients he represented in charges of espionage in Iran’s nuclear programme. Neither Soltani nor his lawyers were allowed to attend the hearing. Soltani was subsequently disbarred.
On 28 May 2007 Soltani was acquitted of all charges on appeal. Since then, he has been hindered in other ways. His passport has repeatedly been confiscated by the government. In 2009, this made it impossible for him to travel to Germany to receive the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award.
Following the protests against the victory of Ahmadinejad at the elections of 12 June 2009, Soltani was abducted and taken to an unknown location on 16 June 2009. On 7 April it turned out that he was being held in the notorious Evan prison. The charge concerned the founding of the DHRC in 2002, which was dissolved by the Iranian government in 2006. Soltani was released on bail at the end of August 2009.
On 4 march 2012 the Islamic Revolution Court has condemned Soltani to 13 years in prison. He was convicted on charges of “propaganda against the system”, “participation in founding the Human Rights Defenders Centre”, assembly and collusion against national security” as well as “earning illegitimate assets” through receiving the Nuremberg City’s Human Rights prize in 2009.
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