The United States has expressed “deep concern” over the arrest – once again -- of renowned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a written statement that Ms. Sotoudeh “was reportedly arrested at her home [June 13] and taken to Evin Prison, the notorious prison the U.S. Department of Treasury designated last month in connection with its involvement in the Government of Iran’s human rights abuses.”
Ms. Sotoudeh’s husband Reza Khandan reportedly told the Iranian Students’ News Agency that the agents who detained her said she must start serving a five year prison sentence, but that neither he nor his wife were informed about what crime she had supposedly committed.
Ms. Sotoudeh, who previously spent three years in prison on trumped up national security charges, is one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Iran. Her clients have included political dissidents like Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, members of the Baha’i community, as well as abused women and children. In 2012 she received the prestigious Sakharov prize from the European Parliament for her dedication to human rights and freedom of thought.
In recent weeks and months, Ms. Sotoudeh has been vocal on a number of issues. She has criticized Iran’s judiciary over its decision to allow an individual charged with security crimes to only choose a defense lawyer from a state-approved list of 20 people.
She has also represented several women who were arrested for peacefully protesting the compulsory hijab. Since January dozens of women in Iran have been detained for removing their hijab in public.
Spokesperson Nauert noted that “Ms. Sotoudeh has spent the past several years harassed by the Iranian regime…for daring to defend the rights of those in Iran.”
Human rights monitors have also denounced Ms. Sotoudeh’s arrest. Amnesty International referred to it as “an outrageous attack on a brave and prolific human rights defender.” Human Rights Watch called her a “champion” for her “tireless” defense of the rights of the Iranian people.
State Department Spokesperson Nauert said the United States “applaud[s] Ms. Sotoudeh’s bravery and her fight for the long-suffering victims of the regime. We call on Iranian authorities to release her immediately, along with the hundreds of others who are currently imprisoned simply for expressing their views and desires for a better life.”