Iran human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh is one a hunger strike since August 25, in protest against her judicial harassment and the continuing pressure which is being exerted on her family, relatives and friends. She was arrested in June and has been in the women’s ward of Evin Prison since.
She is a lawyer who in recent months has represented a number of women’s rights defenders who have faced charges as a result of their protests against compulsory veiling in Iran. She has also actively criticised the new limit which has been imposed by the Iranian judicial system on the number of state-approved lawyers which are permitted to defend political and security based cases.
After she started hunger strike, the Assistant Prosecutor and two other judicial authorities filed three new charges against her for “urging a referendum,” “assisting in the formation of house churches” and “organising protest rallies”. She believes that these charges have been filed as a result of her failure to attend a court hearing on August 15, when she was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia for “propaganda against the state”, “assembly against national security” and “espionage”. The defender has lodged an appeal against these convictions.
On August 18, at about 8 a.m., three agents of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, holding a warrant from Branch 7 of the Revolutionary Court in Evin Prison, raided Nasrin Sotoudeh’s house while her children were asleep. The agents also raided the house of her sister-in-law. It is believed that the agents were searching for objects related to her human rights work, such as badges reading “I oppose the compulsory Hijab”.
Front Line Defenders expressed serious concern on the conviction and judicial harassment against Nasrin Soutoudeh, which it believes is solely a result of her legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of human rights, and urges the authorities in Iran to immediately quash her conviction, release her, and discontinue all other judicial proceedings against her. It also deplored harassment of her relatives and requests the authorities to immediately cease such actions.