“Sotoudeh Illegally Detained in Ward 209; She Should Be Released On Bail,” Says Husband
Most of Iran’s women’s movement activists remain in prison on International Women’s Day, some with long sentences, others awaiting their sentence. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Reza Khandan, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist who was sentenced to 11 years in prison and 20 years’ ban on legal profession and travel abroad, said, “I don’t know whether she remembers Women’s Day or not. As in past weeks, she will call home in 12 hours. Right now she is waiting for the results of her appeals court, about which there is no news yet.”
“My wife has remained in ‘temporary detention’ for the past seven months, even though she can be released on bail until her appeals court ruling, especially as she has two young children. According to the Head of the Judiciary’s new circular, prisoners with charges of ‘actions against national security’ are deprived from having New Year’s* furlough. She will be deprived from seeing her children during New Year’s, and the long New Year’s holidays will be hard on the kids,” said Khandan.
“She remains inside Ward 209 without any legal reasons, even though all investigative stages of her case were completed during the first month. When the investigative phases end, and before the final verdict, even if the prisoner is not freed on bail she should at least be transferred to the General Ward. But she has not been transferred and is deprived of a prisoner’s most basic facilities. She had six court sessions to which she was brought from her solitary cell under strict security measures with several armed officers. She was not even given a pen and paper to write her defense. She wasn’t even entitled to this right,” Khandan told the Campaign about Sotoudeh’s situation inside Ward 209.
“We usually visit her once every two weeks through a booth, if no problems occur or if the visitation day does not coincide with a holiday. But during the past six months, I was not even able to visit her once in person, except for her court sessions, which couldn’t count as visitation as we only greeted each other in the presence of court officials and officers. The kids were only able to visit with their mother a few times for about five minutes. My son who is three years old, according to my calculations, has only been able to visit with his mother for 35 minutes total during his mother’s six-month imprisonment,” said Khandan about his visits.
“Each prisoner has their own problems. The most important thing about my wife is that she is now illegally detained, as there are no strong reasons for not releasing her on bail. She is at the stage where her charges have not yet been upheld. Under these circumstances, only prisoners who are suspected of collusion or flight are not released. Neither one of these are true in my wife’s case and with two young children, she must definitely be released. We emphatically demand her release until her court verdict,” Khandan added.
*Iranian New Year is on 21 March 2011