Leading human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (pictured) has been detained again, amid a crackdown by Iran’s hardline judiciary.
Sotoudeh was arrested on Wednesday by security forces and taken to Evin Prison, her husband Reza Khandan said. Writing on Facebook, he quoted his wife:
Once in the interrogation room I told the interrogators that: “Of all the things that the government should do for its country, you only know one, and that’s to capture people.”
Khandan later said, citing “security forces”, that they were taking Sotoudeh away because “they have an arrest warrant for a five-year prison sentence issued for her, apparently by a Revolutionary Court”. He said Sotoudeh did not know “anything” about the case.
Sotoudeh was harassed and then imprisoned for representing political prisoners held amid the mass protests over the disputed 2009 Presidential election. She was sentenced in January 2011 to 11 years in prison and barred from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years. An appeals court later reduced Sotoudeh’s prison sentence to six years, and the ban on legal practice to 10.
The lawyer was released in September 2013 along with ten other political prisoners, days before an address by recently-election President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations. Her ban on practicing law was further reduced to three years.
Recently Sotoudeh had been defending women who had been arrested for taking off hijab in public demonstrations.
Sotoudeh received the European Union’s most prestigious human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in 2012. On Wednesday, Amnesty said her latest imprisonment is an “outrageous attack on a brave and prolific human rights defender”.
The judiciary and Revolutionary Guards have stepped up detentions and sentencing of activists, amid in-fighting within the regime over social, political, and economic issues. Last week the judiciary decided that only a pool of 20 preselected lawyers can represent political defendants. Sotoudeh was not one of them.