“I Think They Have Demands Of Her Which She Does Not Wish To Grant,” Says Sotoudeh’s Husband
Nasrin Sotoudeh, the imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer, has not contacted her family in the past 17 days. Her husband, Reza Khandan, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that he is worried that his wife might be under pressure in prison to give in to the demands of her interrogators. He also said that he believes his wife might be on a hunger strike. Close relatives of Ms. Sotoudeh told the Campaign that she’s been asked to drop legal representation of the Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, but so far she has not succumbed to these demands.
The husband of this member of the Center for Human rights Defenders told the Campaign: “Since during the last contact she had with me she told me ‘in case the number of days in between my telephone calls exceed four days, you should know that I have gone on a hunger strike,’ I think according to what she said she must have been on a hunger strike for twelve days now, meaning she’s been on hunger strike since 23 September. Her last contact with her lawyer was on 18 September, and before that she had called the house twice; now something like seventeen days have passed and we have not heard from her. I went to the prosecutor’s office three times, and gave them three letters. I also went to the investigators, so did her lawyer, Nasim Ghanavi. Her lawyer is following her case but so far no one has responded to our inquiries. We are now in a limbo. All our communication channels are closed. My understanding is that she is not in a good situation and we’re strongly concerned for her.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on 4 September 2010 after she appeared at the Evin Prison Courts and was transferred to a solitary cell. Ms. Sotoudeh’s office and home had been searched by security forces a week prior to her summons, and her computer and personal belongings had been confiscated. She represented many prisoners of conscience.
“With every passing day, my concern increases. During the first 12 days, she was able to contact her family and her lawyer three times. But it’s now been 17 days since we last heard from her. I think they have demands of her which she does not wish to grant, and now they are putting pressure on her with the tool of cutting her contacts, so that she would agree to their demands. There might also be other pressure we don’t know about,” said Reza Khandan about the imprisoned lawyer’s latest status.
Ms. Sotoudeh has represented several prominent individuals such as Issa Saharkhiz, journalist, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, political activist, and Shirin Ebadi, lawyer. Sotoudeh has also represented juvenile offenders sentenced to death.
“The case investigator refused to see me several times when I went to the courts. Only once, when they mistook me for Nasrin’s lawyer, they let me in. Then he told me ‘you have no role in this case and we cannot give you any information.’ In those few minutes, all they told me was ‘Yes, she is well,’ but they didn’t give me any information about her health conditions. You know that these words do not reassure us. If she is well, then why wouldn’t they allow her to contact her family? Never mind the visit. This woman has two young children and it is only natural that they would be worried for her. She must be allowed to visit and to have telephone contact while they are doing their investigations. According to the law, she is a suspect, not a criminal. She is only in prison based on a claim; even that claim has not been clear to us. Under such circumstances, she is being punished along with her family,” said Reza Khandan about his efforts to gain information about his wife’s well-being.
“Only a couple of kilometers away from Evin Prison, our information about her condition and her case is as limited as yours, thousands of kilometers away from Evin. I am her husband and the investigator tells me that I have no position in her case and he can’t tell me anything,” added Reza Khandan.