Nasrin Sotoudeh was Sentenced to 38 Years in Prison and 148 Lashes

The Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh with her husband, Reza Khandan, and their children in Tehran in 2013, after a previous release from prison. She was arrested again in June last year 

By Iliana Magra 

The  New York Times

March 13, 2019

 Iran has faced international condemnation after one of the country’s most prominent human rights lawyers, detained for eight months, said she had been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes, according to her husband.

Security agents arrested the lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, at her home in June last year. The government offered no explanation, but at the time Ms. Sotoudeh was defending women who had been arrested after removing their hijabs, or head scarves, in public protests.

She received the European Union’s most prestigious human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in 2012, while serving a previous prison sentence.

Ms. Sotoudeh, held at Evin Prison in Tehran, told her husband about the latest sentencing during a brief telephone conversation, the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a monitoring group, said in a statement on Monday.

The husband, Reza Khandan, described the sentences in a Facebook post on Monday, saying that she had received a five-year prison term in one case and a sentence of 33 years in another. She was also sentenced to 148 lashes, he said.

A report the same day from a state-funded news outlet, the Iranian Students’ News Agency, quoted a hard-line judge, Mohammad Moghiseh, as saying that he had sentenced Ms. Sotoudeh to a total of seven years in prison and mentioning two charges, of taking part in an illegal assembly and collusion against the state.

According to the Center for Human Rights statement, however, the first case in which Ms. Sotoudeh had been sentenced appeared to relate to a 2015 trial conducted in her absence. Her husband told the center that she had faced at least seven charges in the second case, among them propaganda against the state, disturbing public peace and order, appearing in court without a head scarf, and encouraging corruption and prostitution.

“I don’t know how many years she got for each of the charges because my conversation with Nasrin only lasted a few minutes and we didn’t get to the details,” the center quoted Mr. Khandan as saying. “I only know that the biggest sentence was 12 years,” he said, for the charge of encouraging corruption and prostitution.

“This verdict shows that making statements in our country comes with such a high price that an attorney can be sentenced to 44 years for it,” he told the center.

“I say 44 years because in 2010 she was sentenced to six years in prison for similar charges,” he added. “This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual.”

During the most recent sentencing, Judge Moghiseh “applied the maximum statutory sentence” for each of her charges, and added an additional four years to her prison term, Amnesty International said in a news release on Monday.

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, called the sentence “utterly outrageous” on Tuesday, and said on Twitter that the European Parliament stood with Ms. Sotoudeh.

Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s foreign secretary, also condemned the decision on Twitter.

“Shocked to hear reports that dedicated Iranian women’s rights campaigner and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to years in prison and 148 lashes,” he wrote.

“Human rights should be defended, not prosecuted,” he added.

Ms. Sotoudeh was not the only member of her family to be sentenced to prison this year.

Mr. Khandan, her husband, was sentenced to six years in January for illicitly posting updates about his wife’s case on Facebook, but he has yet to be imprisoned on that charge, Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, which is based in New York, told The New York Times last week.

The couple has two young children.


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