Lawyer convicted and sentenced to 38 years' imprisonment and 148 lashes

Who we wrote to

The Iranian authorities.

What’s the issue

We’re deeply concerned by the recent conviction and sentencing of Ms Sotoudeh to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes. On 30 December 2018, without access to a legal representative of her own choosing, Ms Sotoudeh was tried in absentia by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on charges that include:

  • assembly and collusion against national security
  • propaganda against the state
  • encouraging corruption and prostitution
  • appearing at the judiciary without Islamic hijab
  • disturbing public peace and order
  • publishing falsehoods with the intent to disturb public opinion

On 13 June 2018, Ms Sotoudeh was arrested at her home in Tehran and taken to Evin prison, where she is still being held. At the time of her arrest, she was informed that she was being detained to serve a five-year prison sentence after a conviction in September 2016 by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”.

In that case she was also convicted in absentia and did not have access to a legal representative of her own choosing. She had not been informed that she had been convicted until her arrest in June 2018 – almost two years after her conviction.

The two sentences that have now been imposed on Ms Sotoudeh mean that she is facing 38 years’ imprisonment in total, together with 148 lashes.

Prior to her arrest in June 2018, Ms Sotoudeh acted as the legal representative of women’s rights activists protesting against compulsory veiling in Iran.

Ms Sotoudeh had also been previously convicted in absentia in a Revolutionary Court in Tehran in 2010 on charges of “spreading propaganda” and “conspiring to harm state security”. She was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment, as well as a ban on practising as a lawyer and leaving the country for 20 years.

After she appealed, her prison sentence was reduced to six years. In September 2013, after three years in prison, Ms Sotoudeh was finally released.

What we asked for

We respectfully urge that the relevant authorities in Iran to:

  • immediately and unconditionally release Ms Sotoudeh, withdraw all charges against her, vacate any convictions and sentences imposed on her, and put an end to all acts of harassment against her
  • ensure the psychological and physical integrity of Ms Sotoudeh and comply with all international standards regarding conditions of detention
  • comply with Iran’s international obligations to ensure that members of the legal profession and human rights defenders can carry out their professional functions without harassment and improper interference, including judicial harassment

Timeline

2010 – Ms Sotoudeh was convicted in absentia in a Revolutionary Court in Tehran in 2010 on charges of “spreading propaganda” and “conspiring to harm state security” and was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment, as well as a ban on practising as a lawyer and leaving the country for 20 years

September 2013 – after three years in prison, Ms Sotoudeh was finally released

September 2016 – Ms Sotoudeh was convicted by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”

13 June 2018 – Ms Sotoudeh was arrested at her home in Tehran and taken to Evin prison

22 August 2018 – we sent a joint letter with Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales to president Rouhani to highlight the recent arrest of Ms Sotoudeh

21 December 2018 – we sent a letter to the Iranian authorities