Prisoners of Conscience Will Not Be Transferred to Gharchak Prison, Says Sotoudeh’s Husband
While all female political prisoners at Evin Prison were transferred to the prison’s Methadone Ward and told they would soon be moved to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, said that it appears the prison authorities may have changed their minds about the transfer. “During my meeting with her [Sotoudeh] last Tuesday, she said that a few days ago she heard in prison that they will remain at Evin and that plans for transferring them to Gharchak, Varamin, have been canceled for now,” Khandan told the Campaign.
“I don’t know what happened in the meantime. Perhaps the authorities decided against the transfer because of all the letters and the publicity about the substandard conditions of Gharchak Prison in Varamin,” said Khandan.
Describing Sotoudeh’s present conditions inside Evin Prison’s Methadon War, Khandan added, “Twenty-five political prisoners at Evin are all kept in the same hall inside this ward, and of course they are not in contact with the other prisoners in this ward. My wife has fewer restrictions in this ward and she is in touch with her political [prisoner] friends. But she cannot make telephone calls. Inside Ward 209, she was allowed to make a 10-minute phone call every week, and this contact is no longer possible. Also, over the recent months, the kids could meet with their mother in person for between five and ten minutes inside Ward 209, but that is no longer possible.”
“Our expectations are not high. In-person visits are every prisoner’s right. We are not asking for anything extraordinary, we want in-person visits according to the law. In nine months, Ms. Sotoudeh and I did not have even one second of in-person visitation, and the total time the children have visited with her is not even one hour,” he added.
Regarding the reasons for the restriction on in-person visits in the new ward, Khandan told the Campaign: “No reasons are announced. They only said that in order to have in-person visits inside this ward, you would have to go to the Prosecutor’s Office and bring in a letter. I have gone to the Prosecutor’s Office several times and have submitted requests, but they have never agreed. Even for the Iranian New Year, even though the Prosecutor had given his verbal agreement for an in-person visit, it didn’t happen and we were not even given booth visits during the New Year holidays.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist, has been inside Evin Prison for the past nine months. Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 11 years in prison, a 20-year ban on legal practice, and a 20-years ban on foreign travel on charges of “propagating against the regime” and “acting against national security.” She was also sentenced to a cash fine of $50 for taking off her hejab during a video speech.