Sotoudeh’s Husband Reacts to Javad Larijani’s New Charges Against Her
Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about the new charges raised against Sotoudeh after she began her third hunger strike since her arrest. “Mrs. Sotoudeh called home on Monday and talked to me and the children for a few minutes. She remains on hunger strike and said that she was taken to the court yesterday and informed of new charges against her,” Khandan said. He also reacted to recent allegations made by the chief of the Iranian judiciary’s human rights council, Mohammad Javad Larijani.
Khandan said he couldn’t quite understand what the new charges were during the telephone call, but that “its general title was ‘hejab.'” Khandan continued saying, “Two years ago, Mrs. Sotoudeh recorded a video clip, thanking the International Human Rights Organization of Italy for an award they had given her. In the video she did not wear a scarf. Of course this film was never broadcast in Iran. Now she will be tried for this new charge on 6 January 2011.”
“Last night I heard through a friend that Mrs. Sotoudeh had seemingly slipped into a coma. I didn’t know whom to call to get some news about her. I had no way of making contact to confirm or deny this news. Early this morning I went to Evin prison, but no one answers questions there. She called herself this afternoon and ended our worries. When I asked her about it, she said that she wasn’t in a coma, and that she was not ill; she had just gone to the infirmary the prior week because of feeling weak. During the telephone conversation I noticed that her mental state was not good and her voice was so weak and she spoke with difficulty. Anyhow, I saw her the last time she was on a hunger strike, and I can imagine what happens to her physically,” he said about Sotoudeh’s physical condition.
Khandan said that prison news is usually conveyed to the outside world with a delay. “The news about Mrs. Sotoudeh’s coma must have been the same news regarding her transfer to the infirmary last week. News usually travels outside the prison with a delay. I don’t know [much about this], either. I only heard through a friend last night that Nasrin had slipped into a coma. Maybe when prisoners visit or call their families, they convey news about other prisoners to them, often with a delay, and sometimes erroneously,” he added.
Mohammad Javad Larijani said today that Nasrin Sotoudeh’s charge is “contact with terrorist groups,” and not related to her profession as a lawyer. “So far as I know, and from what I have learned living with her through these years, in no uncertain terms, has she has ever been in contact with terrorist groups. In the only trial session I could attend, this topic was never brought up. This is the first time I have heard this charge and I know that the Judge and Prosecutor who issued the indictment against Mrs. Sotoudeh must be pretty surprised with Mr. Larijani’s statements today,” Khandan explained.
In a press conference yesterday Larijani said, “We must be cognizant that when an individual becomes a suspect’s lawyer, all his comings and goings must be inside court hallways, not traveling from one capital to another, interviewing against the system and the regime. This is called professional abuse of the law profession…Nasrin Sotoudeh has not been indicted because of her profession as a lawyer, but for propagating against Islam, the regime, and contact with terrorist organizations. Of course the court must review her charges. Not only is no individual ever prosecuted for being a lawyer, they are respected by us.”
“A while back, Mr. Larijani made another strange statement in the US, regarding Nasrin Sotoudeh’s case, which was read to me with an incomplete translation. He had said there that Mrs. Sotoudeh’s charge is propagating against Islam. This is a charge which has not been raised in her case at all,” Khandan added.
The Campaign asked Reza Khandan about the reasons for Sotoudeh not appearing at last Thursday’s visitation hour at Evin prison. “I haven’t yet found out why Mrs. Sotoudeh did not come to the visitation area that day, and what the [prison] officer meant when he told me that Mrs. Sotoudeh did not wish to see us ‘for security reasons,'” he said.