NIAC Strongly Condemns the Iranian Judiciary’s Detention of Nasrin Sotoudeh

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Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement regarding Nasrin Sotoudeh’s unjust arrest and detention in Evin Prison:

“NIAC strongly condemns the Iranian judiciary’s detention of Sotoudeh and calls for the immediate release of her and all prisoners of conscience. Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyer, has been arrested at her home and transferred to Evin Prison earlier today. Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to human rights and faced unjust imprisonment in the past. In 2012, after three years of confinement she went on multiple hunger strikes and lost 95 pounds. That same year she received the European Union’s highest human rights award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Following her release, Sotoudeh was barred from the practice of law for three years but it was reduced to nine months.

“Most recently Sotoudeh has represented several young women who were arrested for removing their hijabs as a form of protest in public. Her current arrest comes without a formal charge and was first reported on her husband’s Facebook page but later confirmed by the New York Times and BBC Persian. Iran’s Judiciary continues to terrorize its citizens with fabricated charges, zero due process, and inhumane prison conditions. Sotoudeh has devoted her life to defending the human dignity of her clients and now finds herself torn from her family and imprisoned. This is absolutely unacceptable and it is incumbent on Iran’s highest authorities to facilitate her release immediately.

“Many have feared there would be a worsening human rights situation and an emboldening of hardline elements in Iran with the heightening of tensions with the United States. Indeed, we have seen this pattern in the past and are concerned that Sotoudeh’s arrest is evidence this trend is repeating. Lost in much of the discourse over the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and announcement of new sanctions and escalatory measures has been the impact these external actions may have on the political dynamics inside of Iran. The blame of course lies with those actors inside Iran who are seizing on this opportunity to advance an agenda that is anathema to Iran’s human rights obligations and to the wishes of the Iranian people. At the same time, the U.S. must carefully consider how our actions create opportunities for such elements and reduce our ability, as well as the international community’s ability, to hold Iran accountable to its human rights obligations.”