Iranian Rights Lawyer Sotoudeh Faces Long Prison Term, Lashes

Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

On 13 June 2018, Nasrin Sotoudeh was taken from her home in Tehran.

Iran has faced worldwide condemnation after one of the country's most prominent human rights lawyers, detained for eight months, said she had been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes, according to her husband. The government offered no explanation, but at the time Sotoudeh was defending women who had been arrested after removing their hijabs, or headscarves, in public protests. After another trial, the court sentenced her to a total of 38 years and 148 lashes.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the worst human rights abusers in the world and top state sponsor of global terrorism, has been appointed a seat on the United Nations' Women's Rights Committee, Hillel Neuer of the watchdog group UN Watch reported Wednesday.

Quoting Sotoudeh's lawyer Mohammad Moghimi, Human Rights Watch stated that Sotoudeh was sent to prison on charges of assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the state, and her membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center, the Legam group campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty, and the National Peace Council. While sharing his concern he said that she "was reportedly convicted of charges relating to her work and could face a lengthy prison sentence".

U.S. govt has condemned the arrest and said, "We are outraged to hear reports that the Iranian regime sentenced Sotoudeh to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes".

Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy director, described the sentence as a "shocking injustice".

"Only the longest sentence will be served", the lawyer's husband told AFP.

One of Sotoudeh's lawyers, Mahmud Behzadi-Rad said that the verdict had been handed down in absentia.

In an explosive report released earlier this month, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Iran, Javaid Rehman, blasted the Islamic Republic for "the trend of human rights defenders, including women human rights defenders, being arrested and imprisoned in connection with their activities, and the increasing numbers of arrests of lawyers and labour activists". "This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual", he has said.

An outspoken critic of the Iranian establishment, Sotoudeh previously spent three years in prison on security charges after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Sotoudeh was not the only member of her family to be sentenced to prison this year.

It's not clear why the judge in the case is saying the sentence is seven years when it appears to be 38, but in either case, this is ridiculous punishment for trumped-up charges.

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