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Iranian Rights Lawyers Targeted

Nasrin Sotoudeh
Nasrin Sotoudeh

The Iranian regime is targeting human rights lawyers for persecution.

The Iranian regime is targeting human rights lawyers for persecution.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of Iran's most prominent defenders of human rights campaigners, political activists and juveniles, is currently on trial in Tehran, charged with crimes against national security. Ms. Sotoudeh, the mother of 2 young children, was arrested in September after being threatened with reprisals if she continued to defend her clients. She has been in solitary confinement and spent several weeks on a hunger strike to protest conditions in Evin prison.

Amnesty International says the persecution of Nasrin Sotoudeh "is just one example of the Iranian government's pernicious campaign against human rights attorneys who struggle to carry out their work in a deeply flawed legal system." Amnesty notes that other well-known human rights attorneys, such as Shirin Ebadi, Shadi Sadr and Mohammad Mostafaei, have been hounded into exile, while others, like Mohammad Seifzadeh, have been sentenced to long prison terms.

Shortly before the start of Ms. Sotoudeh's trial, Iranian authorities arrested 5 more lawyers, on charges of "committing security crimes and acts violating the Islamic republic's norms outside the country." Media outlets have reported that 3 of the 5 are Sara Sabaghian, Maryam Kian-Ersi and Maryam Karbasi, who were arrested at Tehran's International Imam Khomeini Airport on November 14. The other 2 have been identified as Rosa Gharachurlo and Mohammad Hossein Nayyeri.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley says the United States remains "gravely concerned about Iran's continued harassment, detention and imprisonment of human rights defenders:"

"We understand that the trial of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is reportedly under way, but it is proceeding without the transparency and due process guaranteed under Iranian law. Iran's leaders should know that their efforts to silence those Iranians who stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens does not go unnoticed."

"We once again join the international community in calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners including those imprisoned for defending detainees or speaking out against human rights abuses," said Mr. Crowley, "and urge Iran to afford its citizens those rights that are universal to all people."