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2010. 4 Sep A prominent human rights lawyer in Iran, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was detained by the authorities on charges of "acting against national security," "assembly and collusion to disrupt security," and "cooperation with the Defenders for Human Rights Center." Ms Sotoudeh has represented Iranian opposition activists and politicians, as well a prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18. She was taken to Tehran's Evin prison was being held in solitary confinement.

She launched a hunger strike at the end of September to protest being denied visits and phone calls from her family. Her family convinced her to end the hunger strike on the 23rd of October. This was one of two hunger strikes she staged during her first term in prison. The other was to protest against the conditions in Evin. [Web Citation]

In January 2011, Iranian authorities sentenced Sotoudeh to 11 years in prison, in addition to barring her from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years. Later that year, an appeals court reduced her sentence to six years and her practice ban to ten years in August of 2014. [Wikipedia]

Sotoudeh was released on 18 September 2013 along with ten other political prisoners, days before an address by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations. The Iranian authorities have given no reason for her release and no indication of whether it is unconditional. [Amnesty International]

Tehran; Iran Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Human rights; Nasrin Sotoudeh
2018. 13 Jun Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on charges of collusion and propaganda against Iran’s rulers. [Al Jazeera]

On 29 August 2018, Sotoudeh began a hunger strike to protest her detention and government harassment of her family and friends.

On 11 March 2019 Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced in two different trials to 38.5 years in prison and 148 lashes and was denied access to a copy of the verdict against her. She was only permitted to see the text of the sentence and to note the charges of which she was convicted. One of the charges against her was “membership in an illegal group”, referring to her membership of Legam, a campaign to abolish the death penalty in Iran. According to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, and given the high number of charges against her, only the most severe punishment will be enforced. However, given the high number of charges against her, it is unclear how much of the sentence she will have to serve. [Front Line Defenders]

On 27 July 2020, her husband, Reza Khandan, reported that his wife's bank accounts had been blocked by the Tehran Prosecutor's Office. Reza Khandan believed this to be the beginning of the seizure of the family's assets.

On 10 August 2020, Nasrin Sotoudeh began a hunger strike to protest the continued imprisonment of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Iran. In a letter outlining her reasons, she highlighted that COVID-19 has only served to exacerbate the already poor conditions for prisoners in Iran. In September she was hospitalised after her physical condition worsened following weeks of hunger strike. Her strike ended in late September after 46 days.

On October 20, Sotoudeh was transferred from Evin Prison in Tehran to Qarchak, a women’s prison outside the city that has been blacklisted under United Nations human rights sanctions.

7 November 2020. Sotoudeh was temporarily released from prison after concerns mounted over her deteriorating health. Her temporary release came weeks after she was moved to intensive care in a hospital in Tehran following a lengthy hunger strike. [Al Jazeera]

2 December 2020: Nasrin Sotoudeh was returned to Qarchak prison despite the fact that medical experts recommended the extension of her medical leave for a further two weeks. [Al Jazeera]

Queen's University conferred an honorary doctorate of Law. Accepting it on her behalf was Irwin Cotler, Sotoudeh’s international legal counsel and former Minister of Justice of Canada. [Queen's Gazeette 23 January 2021]

Tehran; Iran Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Human rights; Nasrin Sotoudeh
2020. 1 Oct The release of the documentary film Nasrin, about the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, in the USA. [IMDB; Wikipedia]

The American screenwriter, director and producer Jeff Kaufman and his co-producer, Marcia S. Ross, were unable to get visas to travel to Iran themselves. They relied on their on-the-ground film crew as well as calls with Sotoudeh and her husband Khandan. The film took four years to make and is essential viewing. Everyone involved, including Sotoudeh, put themselves in jeopardy by agreeing to participate in the project, but clearly, for them, the importance of its message outweighed the risk of arrest. The project also had to forego crowdfunding or fundraising of any kind in order to keep the film secret and protect those involved.

Sotoudeh has been called “the Nelson Mandela of Iran.” [Forbes] ,

  • The film was released for VOD on the 26th of January 2012. See an interview with the director, Jeff Kaufman and the producer, Marcia Ross in Awards Daily 26 January 2021.
  • United States; Iran Documentaries; Films; Nasrin; Nasrin Sotoudeh; Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Human rights

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