Ms. Sotoudeh is serving a six year sentence for supposed crimes against national security. She has also been prohibited from practicing law.
After nearly 50 days, Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has ended her hunger strike in Evin prison. She stopped when Iranian authorities agreed to lift a travel ban imposed on her husband and 12 year-old daughter.
A winner of the 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Ms. Sotoudeh is one of Iran’s most prominent political prisoners. A human rights defender whose clients have included many political dissidents, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, as well as vulnerable women and juvenile defendants, Ms. Sotoudeh is serving a six year sentence for supposed crimes against national security. She has also been prohibited from practicing law for 10 years.
Ms. Sotoudeh has been on several hunger strikes since her arrest in September 2010, and has spent much of the last two years in solitary confinement. She started her latest hunger strike on October 17, to protest the harassment of her family and restrictions on her right to visitation. Her husband, Reza Khandan, said his wife’s weight had plummeted to 43 kilograms (94 pounds).
The Iranian regime’s treatment of Ms. Sotoudeh has caused outrage among many in the international community. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed grave concern for Ms. Sotoudeh’s health and urged the Iranian government to release her from prison. Ms. Pillay’s spokesman Rupert Colville noted that UN human rights mechanisms view the imprisonment of Ms. Sotoudeh as arbitrary, and in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has adopted.
Exiled human rights attorney Ebadi recently wrote that the persecution of Nasrin Sotoudeh “raises a fundamental question about Iran’s future. If the people who come to the defense of people whose human rights are violated cannot do their jobs,” asked Ms. Ebadi, “who will ensure that such values as equality and justice are upheld in Iran?”
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland has called the Iranian government’s mistreatment of Nasrin Sotoudeh “intolerable,” and said in a statement that the United States “demand[s] that she and more than 30 female political prisoners detained in Evin Prison be released immediately.”