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Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh sentenced in Iran

March 13, 2019

Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to an additional ten years — 38 years in total plus 148 lashes — according to her husband. Human rights activists are calling for her immediate and unconditional release.


Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Soutoudeh, was sentenced to an additional 10 years in jail on top of the five-year term she is already serving, her husband said Tuesday.

"She was sentenced to a total of 38 years imprisonment with 148 lashes, five years in jail for the first case and 33 years in prison with 148 lashes on the second charges," Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, told DW noting that she had been told of her sentence while in prison. The new 10-year sentence was the longest of her seven verdicts.

Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, head of Branch 28 at Tehran's Revolutionary Court, said that Sotoudeh had been sentenced to five years for colluding against the system and two years for insulting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Reza Khandan, however, said in a conversation with DW that he was not aware his wife had been charged with insulting the leader.

"We do not know the case which Judge Moghiseh is speaking about. My wife has been sentenced to 33 years in a court in absentia. Eight months earlier she had been told that the five-year prison sentence issued earlier would be enforced," he said.

"Only the longest sentence will be served," Khandan told AFP by telephone.

Khandan likewise expressed his dismay at the sentencing to The Center for Human Rights in Iran.

"It’s shameful for Iran’s judicial system to issue such a heavy sentence against a human rights activist. This verdict shows that making statements in our country comes with such a high price. This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual," he said.

Sign of 'deepening repression' 

The award-winning activist was charged in absentia with espionage and endangering Iran's national security and was arrested in June 2018. Before her arrest, Sotoudeh, 55, had taken on the cases of several women arrested for appearing in public without headscarves in protest at the mandatory dress code in force in Iran. She began a hunger strike on August 23 from her cell in Evin Prison to protest the charges.

Read more: Iran's Nasrin Sotoudeh — from human rights lawyer to hunger striker 

"It is deeply concerning — there is deepening repression," Javaid Rehman, the United Nations' top expert on human rights on Iran told reporters on the sidelines of a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva.

"The state is becoming increasingly intolerant," the London-based law scholar and human rights lawyer added. The reported conviction, he said, was "a crystal-clear illustration of an increasingly severe state response."

Iran Nasrin Sotoudeh
Among the charges the award-winning activist faces are those relating to not properly covering her head Image: Iran Emrooz

Sentenced to lashing for defending women

Rehman was not the only human rights activist to have spoken out in Sotoudeh's defense.  Amnesty International called for her immediate and unconditional release, condemning the latest case against Sotoudeh as an "outrageous injustice."

"Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women's rights and speaking out against the death penalty — it is utterly outrageous that Iran's authorities are punishing her for her human rights work," the organization said in a statement.

Iran Human Rights likewise issued a statement. "Sotoudeh has been sentenced in a Kafkaesque trial severely lacking in international standards of due process," said executive director Hadi Ghaemi.

"The Iranian Judiciary is punishing Sotoudeh for trying to uphold the rule of law and the right to a fair defense in cases involving defendants facing politically motivated charges," he added. "First they went after the journalists, activists and dissidents. Now they’re going after their only line of defense."

Sotoudeh had received the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov Prize in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offenses committed as minors. She had previously spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Read more: Iran releases political prisoners including lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh 

ct/ot (dpa, afp)