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Iranian human rights lawyer sentenced to 38 years in prison

13 March 2019

Iranian defence lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has told her husband that she has been sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran reports.

The Centre says the Iranian judiciary is punishing Sotoudeh for trying to uphold the rule of law and the right to a fair defence in cases involving defendants facing politically motivated charges.

Her husband, Reza Khandan, posted on Facebook on 11 March that his wife has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment for one case and 33 years for a second case involving a combined total of nine charges.

Khandan received the news in a very brief phone conversation with his wife.

“I don’t know how many years she got for each of the charges because my conversation with Nasrin only lasted a few minutes and we didn’t get to the details,” he told the Centre. “I only know that the biggest sentence was 12 years for [encouraging people to] ‘corruption and prostitution.’”

The Centre says the first sentence of five years appears based on a 2015 case in which she was tried in absentia by hardline Judge Mohammad Moghiseh.

It says Khandan said second sentence is based on seven charges: “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center, the Legam group (against capital punishment), and the National Peace Council,” “encouraging people to corruption and prostitution,” “appearing at the judiciary without Islamic hijab,” “disturbing public peace and order” and “publishing falsehoods with the intent to disturb public opinion.”

Sotoudeh was tried in absentia in Tehran on December 30, 2018, at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh. The Centre says he is known for issuing harsh sentences in cases involving politically motivated charges.

Sotoudeh, 55, has been detained since June 13, 2018, after security agents unexpectedly appeared at her home and took her to Evin Prison in Tehran.

An outspoken human rights advocate with several international accolades, she previously served three years in prison from 2010-2013 and was released after years of campaigning for her freedom by international human rights organisations.

The Lawyers for Lawyers organisation says the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, raised Sotoudeh’s case at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 11 March, saying that she “was reportedly convicted of charges relating to her work and could face a lengthy prison sentence”.

He furthermore stated that “worrying patterns of intimidation, arrest, prosecution and ill-treatment of human rights defenders, lawyers and labour rights activists signal an increasingly severe state response.”

Last updated on the 16th September 2019