Arrest and detention of Iranian lawyer

Who we wrote to

The head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani.

We co-wrote the letter with:

  • Lawyers for Lawyers
  • Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
  • the Bar Council of England and Wales
  • the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about the arrest and detention of lawyer Ms Nasrin Sotoudeh in Iran. It’s apparent that Ms Sotoudeh’s arrest is connected to her legitimate activities as an attorney.

We understand that Ms Sotoudeh was arrested in June at her home in Tehran and taken to Evin prison.

She was told that she was being detained to serve a five-year prison sentence on charges that she has never been notified, tried or convicted of. Since then, she was told that she’s facing new charges:

  • “spreading propaganda against the system”
  • “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”

Ms Sotoudeh allegedly refused to pay the bail set for her release because it was disproportionately high. She also expressed concerns about the lack of due process and objected to selecting her defence lawyer from a limited state-approved list.

What we asked for

We’ve asked the Iranian authorities to:

  • immediately and unconditionally release Ms Sotoudeh, withdraw all charges against her, vacate any convictions imposed in her absence and without notice to her, and put an end to all acts of harassment against her
  • make sure that all authorities strictly comply and act in accordance with the due process rights of Ms Sotoudeh guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  • guarantee in all circumstances that all lawyers in Iran enjoy and carry out their legitimate professional rights and duties without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions

Timeline

January 2011 – Ms Sotoudeh was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in connection with her work as a lawyer. Her sentence was reduced to six years on appeal

September 2013 – Ms Sotoudeh was released from prison early after receiving a pardon and subjected to a ban on practising law

2014 – Ms Sotoudeh protested daily outside Iran’s Bar Association until the disbarment decision was overturned

June 2018 – Ms Sotoudeh was arrested and taken to prison