Iran Daily: Human Rights Lawyer Sotoudeh Charged Over Representation of Women in Hijab Cases

Detained human rights lawyer and former political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh (pictured) has been charged by Iran’s authorities over her representation of women arrested for protesting against compulsory hijab.

Sotoudeh was seized at her Tehran home last Wednesday. She had previously been imprisoned from September 2010 until September 2013, for her defense of political prisoners held amid the mass protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election.

See Iran Daily, June 14: Regime Imprisons Human Rights Lawyer Sotoudeh Again

Sotoudeh’s husband Reza Khandan, citing “security forces”, initially said they took Sotoudeh because “they have an arrest warrant for a five-year prison sentence issued for her, apparently by a Revolutionary Court”. But he wrote on Monday that the detention was over her involvement with the women who began public demonstrations in late December against the compulsory veiling of their heads in public.

“During the interrogation, she was told that the charges against her are ‘propaganda against the state’ and ‘assembly and collusion’ because she colluded with Ms. Shaparak [Shajarizadeh]” — one of the hijab protesters — “in the courthouse in Kashan,” Khandan said.

He said that Sotoudeh never met Shajarizadeh, who is being held in a prison 152 miles south of the capital, but noted,
“It’s the most laughable thing to say a lawyer met and colluded with her client. Meeting a client is a basic part of a lawyer’s job.”

Authorities arrested dozens of women during the demonstrations, in which the “Girls of Revolution Street” stood on electrical junction boxes and waved their hijab on the end of poles. Several have been officially charged.

Khandan commented:

f you ask me what the authorities are thinking deep inside, I will tell they just want Nasrin to sit at home and avoid cases like the Girls of Revolution Street and stop defending civil and political activists and not give interviews to the media.

Nasrin told me during visitation [on Sunday] that she has worked hard on the cases against her three clients — the Girls of Revolution Street—and believes the compulsory hijab is inhumane and against human rights and if her detention continues, she, too, will remove her headscarf in prison.

Khandan, defense lawyers Arash Keykhosravi and Payam Derafshan — who are representing a leading environmentalist and professor who died under suspicious circumstances in Evin Prison in February 2018 — and several civil rights activists gathered outside the gates of Evin on Sunday to protest Sotoudeh’s detention.

Khandan said the group was beaten, with nine detained for several hours.

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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