TEHRAN, Jun 15 – A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, who had defended women protesting against having to wear the Islamic headscarf, has been detained and told she will serve five years in prison, according to her family.
Nasrin Sotoudeh was taken from her home in Tehran on Wednesday, according to her husband, Reza Khandan, who said she managed to call him after she was detained. He said she was told she would be serving a five-year sentence at Evin prison, Tehran, after being convicted in absentia. “I have no idea what the sentence was related to,” said Khandan.
There was no immediate comment from authorities.
Khandan said that their 18-year-old daughter was at home at the time of the arrest. “My daughter is preparing for university entrance exams that will be held in two weeks,” he said. “I don’t know how she will manage it in such conditions.”
Sotoudeh is an outspoken critic of the country’s judiciary, which is dominated by hardliners. She had recently objected to its decision to limit the number of lawyers allowed to defend clients in security-related cases, calling the move a “farewell” to the right of defence.
The judiciary had released a list of only 20 lawyers, out of 60,000 licensed attorneys, who would be allowed to defend such cases. After widespread objections, the judiciary said it would expand the list.
Sotoudeh, mother to two children, has also worked as a lawyer for women detained for refusing to cover their hair in public. She has represented prominent opposition activists,and previously served a three-year prison term, from 2010 to 2013, after being convicted on security-related charges.
She was awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the EU in 2012.