The systemic harassment, arrest and imprisonment of human rights lawyers in Iran remain an ongoing concern for the Monitoring Group. To date, the Law Society has written letters of intervention in support of Iranian lawyers, including Shirin Ebadi, Saleh Kamrani, Nasser Zarafshan and Abdolfattah Soltani.
On September 4, 2010, it was reported that Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested. Ms. Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer, is known for defending juveniles facing the death penalty, prisoners of conscience and children victims of abuse. Ms. Sotoudeh has also represented several political activists and protesters who were arrested in the aftermath of the disputed presidential election in Iran in 2009. Moreover, she was a member of the Iranian Women’s Rights Movement ‘One Million Signature Campaign’ aimed at collecting signatures from Iranians opposed to the country’s discriminatory laws against women.
It was reported that Ms. Sotoudeh went to Evin prison court, where she had been summoned by the Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office on charges of “propaganda against the State” and “collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security”. After her questioning by a magistrate, Ms. Sotoudeh was arrested. Her lawyer was not permitted to be present during the questioning.
A few days prior to her arrest, she had reported to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the Iranian authorities were using tax harassment against human rights lawyers in order to limit their working conditions. She gave the example of Ms. Shirin Ebadi who was subjected to the payment of taxes of hundreds of thousands of dollars on the money she had been granted for her Nobel Peace Prize.
Prior to her arrest, Ms. Sotoudeh received threats by Iranian intelligence officials that she would be arrested if she continued to represent Ms. Ebadi. On August, 28, 2010, Ms. Sotoudeh's office and home were searched by members of the intelligence service and her assets were frozen. To date, Ms. Sotoudeh is reportedly detained in Evin prison.
It is reported that the arrest of Ms. Sotoudeh is related to the systemic approach by Iranian officials to arrest hundreds of activists and opposition members. More than 90 have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 6 months to 15 years or death.
Letter of Intervention