Published: Sun, March 17, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

European Parliament Urges Iran To Release Sotoudeh, Other Jailed Rights Defenders

European Parliament Urges Iran To Release Sotoudeh, Other Jailed Rights Defenders

Security agents arrested the lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, at her home in June a year ago.

A group of Iranian lawyers has joined the criticism of the worldwide community for the sentence of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes imposed in recent days on Nasrin Sotoudeh, leader of the fight against the mandatory veil.

Sotoudeh, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory head scarf, was arrested in June and charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran's supreme leader, her lawyer said. Husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, Reza Khandan, posted on Facebook about the punishment "38 years of prison with 148 lashes are the result of 2 open cases".

In an open letter to the Iranian people, and sent by one of the authors to VOA Persia for publication, the group of 16 jurists emphasizes that the sentence violates the commitments enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic on the subject of human rights and due process.

The Iranian authorities subsequently laid seven further charges against her, including allegations related to national security, public order and appearing before the judiciary without a hijab.

A report the same day from a state-funded news outlet, the Iranian Students' News Agency, quoted a hard-line judge, Mohammad Moghiseh, as saying that he had sentenced Ms. Sotoudeh to a total of seven years in prison and mentioning two charges, of taking part in an illegal assembly and collusion against the state. In March 2019, the Center for Human Rights in Iran issued a statement denouncing the court system which convicted Sotoudeh as "lacking in global standards of due process". My wife has been sentenced to 33 years in a court in absentia.

Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, called the sentence "utterly outrageous" on Tuesday, and said on Twitter that the European Parliament stood with Sotoudeh.

"This verdict shows that making statements in our country comes with such a high price that an attorney can be sentenced to 44 years for it", he told the center.

"This is the harshest sentence Amnesty International has documented against a human rights defender in Iran in recent years" said Amnesty International's campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict.

"This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual".

Amnesty demanded that Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and the sentence should be quashed without delay. "We urge the Iranian authorities to release all lawyers arbitrarily detained for their work defending the legal and human rights of Iranians, and to allow lawyers to undertake their work free from fear of arrest or intimidation by the state", the experts said.

Sotoudeh was not the only member of her family to be sentenced to prison this year. 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

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