It is evident that the Iranian government fears Nasrin Sotoudeh. The prominent human rights lawyer and mother of two young children has been handed a harsh sentence: 11 years in prison; a 20 years' ban on practicing law; and a 20 year prohibition on foreign travel.
For years, Ms. Sotoudeh defended women and children in Iran's complex legal system. In the aftermath of Iran's disputed presidential election of 2009, she served as the attorney for many Iranians who were arbitrarily arrested for exercising their fundamental rights to free assembly and expression. In September 2010 she herself was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in Evin prison. She protested her appalling conditions there with a series of hunger strikes.
According to the Iranian government, Ms. Sotoudeh was found guilty of "acting against national security," "not wearing the hijab during a videotaped message," and "propaganda against the regime." Amnesty International said she is a prisoner of conscience.
The United States condemns the unjust and harsh verdict against Nasrin Sotoudeh and calls for her immediate release. In a written statement, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley hailed her as a "strong voice for rule of law and justice in Iran" and noted that her conviction "is part of a systematic attempt on the part of Iranian authorities to silence the defense of democracy and human rights in Iran. It is," said Mr. Crowley, "one in a series of harsh sentences targeting the lawyers of Iran's human rights community which perseveres despite threats, torture and imprisonment."
Mr. Crowley challenged the Iranian government "'to address the international community's deep concern at serious human rights violations in Iran' as expressed in the December United Nations general Assembly resolution and to respect its human rights obligations, including its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."