Washington, D.C. – Freedom Now strongly condemns the arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh and calls for her immediate and unconditional release. Sotoudeh is one of Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyers and has represented numerous individuals who have been wrongly imprisoned, including journalists, university students, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi. It is unclear what lead to her arrest, but in the past few months Sotoudeh has engaged in several activities that may have angered the Iranian regime, including representing young women who peacefully protested the compulsory hijab rule in Tehran; criticizing a judiciary-approved list of lawyers who will be allowed to represent individuals accused of national security, political, and media offenses; and calling for a UN-sponsored referendum on a new system of government in Iran.
“Nasrin Sotoudeh is a courageous woman with an interminable commitment to defending human rights,” said Freedom Now’s Executive Director Maran Turner. “We are deeply troubled by her arrest, which appears directly related to her work as a lawyer. We call on the Iranian government to immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin and allow her to continue her work without further harassment.”
News of Sotoudeh’s arrest was first reported by her husband Reza Khandan on Facebook. In his post, he stated that Sotoudeh had been arrested at their home on June 13, 2018 and taken to Evin Prison.
Sotoudeh was previously arrested on September 4, 2010 on charges of propaganda against the state, acting against national security, violating hijab in a filmed speech, and membership in the Center for the Defense of Human Rights. On May 6, 2011, in response to a petition filed by Freedom Now, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found her detention violated Iran’s obligations under international law and called for her immediate release. She was sentenced to six years in prison, but was released in September 2013, just days before newly elected President Hassan Rouhani was set to travel to the United States to address the UN General Assembly.
Freedom Now previously worked along with Alex Chalk from the Chambers of David Fisher QC and David Perry QC and Dr. Ebadi to bring greater international attention to Sotoudeh’s case.