Iran: Prominent human rights lawyer detained today

Press release
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13 June 2018 – The Iranian authorities should immediately release human rights lawyer Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and cease all acts of harassment against her, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), urged today.

Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, the celebrated human rights lawyer and 2012 laureate of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, was detained this morning by security forces in the Iranian capital Tehran and taken to Evin prison. Her husband, who broke the news, did not provide the reasons for her detention.

On 5 June 2018, Ms. Sotoudeh published a post on her Facebook page, in which she reported that she and her daughter had objected to a car dealer transmitting religious songs from his shop through loudspeakers to the public. In response, the car dealer threatened to call the police, according to Ms. Sotoudeh.

Ms. Sotoudeh was imprisoned in September 2010. Following national and international outcry over her detention, she was released in 2013 after serving more than three years of her six-year prison sentence. She has spoken up on different human rights issues ever since.

She has co-founded a campaign to abolish the death penalty in Iran and has relentlessly worked to save from execution some of the persons who had been sentenced to death for crimes for which they were convicted allegedly committed when they were children.

In recent times, Ms. Sotoudeh has defended several women who had been beaten up and arrested after publicly demonstrating against the compulsory hijab by taking off their headscarves on the streets. She has also defended a number of several hundred Sufi dervishes who have been persecuted and prosecuted by the authorities. In addition, she has spoken against the judiciary’s plans to allow only a selected list of its trusted lawyers to represent defendants charged with vague security-related offenses.

After her release in 2013, Ms. Sotoudeh staged a nine-month sit-in protest against the suspension of her lawyer’s licence outside the capital’s Bar Association premises, and managed to overturn the three-year ban on practising her legal profession.

The security and intelligence agencies and the judiciary are said to have been actively fabricating charges against Ms. Sotoudeh for some time, including in respect of her protest outside the Bar Association.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about today’s arbitrary arrest of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, which appears aimed at punishing her for human rights activities.

For further information, please contact:
· FIDH : Maryna Chebat Tel : +33 6 48 05 91 57 e-mail: / Samuel Hanryon: +33 6 72 28 42 94 e-mail:
· OMCT : Delphine Reculeau : +41 22 809 49 39

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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