Sotoudeh Nominated for Sakharov Prize, Denied In-person Visitation for Writing Defense on Tissue
Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned lawyer and human rights activist, was nominated this week for the prestigious European Union Sakharov Human Rights Prize. News of her nomination arrived just as she has been deprived of in-person visitation because she wrote her defense bill on a tissue paper. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Sotoudeh’s husband said that his wife has been deprived of visiting with her two young children in person for three months now and has not been allowed to visit with her mother and brother for the past year, even through a booth.
“All other prisoners more or less enjoy the privilege of in-person visitations, but Nasrin, despite having two young children, has been denied this privilege for nearly three months now. She was denied this because she wrote her defense bill on tissue paper. She was preparing for her upcoming court trial in the Bar Association last June. Instead of respectfully giving her pen and paper to write her defense bill, the prison authorities deprived her of in-person visitations for secretly writing her defense on tissue paper, and took away the tissue,” Reza Khandan told the Campaign. “Her mother and brother have been deprived of visiting her even through a booth for almost a year,” he added.
Speaking of Sotoudeh’s physical condition, Khandan told the Campaign, “She is so weak and skinny, she is hardly recognizable. She was telling me today in our visit that when Faezah Hashemi came to the ward [this week] and talked to other prisoners, she inquired about her, asking whether Nasrin Soutodeh was among them. This is while Nasrin was sitting right in front of her! Nasrin’s appearance has changed so much; she is so skinny, and her eyes are hollowed, to the point where she is no longer recognizable. Nasrin is no longer like the person in the photos that were distributed everywhere. Her cellmates told Faezeh Hashemi that Nasrin was sitting right in front of her!”
Asked about Sotoudeh’s reaction to news of her nomination for a Sakharov Prize, Khandan said, “Just today [Wednesday, September 26], I visited with Nasrin through a booth, but ahead of me, families of other prisoners had already given her the news at the Sunday visitation, so Nasrin was aware of this development and was very happy. In her present state, hearing this kind of news and learning about all the support is very helpful to her and brings her happiness, but I wish her conditions would improve.”
Nasrin Soutodeh and Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi together represent one of the five nominees for the Sakharov Human Rights Prize. The five finalists for the European Union Human Rights Prize, known as Sakharov, were announced in the last few days. Nasrin Soutodeh and Jafar Panahi, the Iranian filmmaker sentenced to six years in prison and a 20-years ban on filmmaking, foreign travel, and interviews with domestic and international media outlets, are jointly one of the five nominees for the prize. The winner of this year’s award will be announced during an official ceremony in the city of Strasbourg, France, on October 23, 2012.