Nasrin Sotoudeh: “Hardliners are trying to open a new case against me”
Prominent Human Rights Lawyer is Summoned to Court
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and former political prisoner, has been summoned to appear at Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on September 3, 2016, but has not been informed of the charges against her. She will be representing herself in court because three of the five lawyers who had defended her in previous cases were subsequently sought for prosecution, she told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“My guess is that the hardliners did not want my law license to be reinstated and are trying to open a new case against me,” she said. “I won’t know anything for sure until I can take a look at the charges against me.”
“Last year, soon after my law license was reinstated, I received a summons from the Evin Prison prosecutor. Unfortunately, as usual, it did not state the charges against me, but they still wanted me to appear. At the time I had a foot operation and could not make an appearance, so my husband went and asked for an extension. They postponed it for three weeks and then, when I appeared on the new date, they did not let me go inside the courthouse,” said Sotoudeh.
“Later I was asked by phone to appear at the courthouse again, but I said they must send me a written summons,” she added. “Now the summons has arrived and it says I have to be present in court on September 3. It appears that the case has been sent to Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. I will not be given access to my file until a day before the trial.”
Asked how her law practice has been functioning since the reinstatement of her license, Sotoudeh told the Campaign: “I am only allowed to take on general civil cases now. I cannot defend suspects in political and security cases. Individuals charged with security offenses have wanted me to defend them, but the judicial authorities would not allow it. For instance, a while ago [prominent reformist journalist] Issa Saharkhiz told the judge that I was his lawyer, but the judge refused.”
Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 and subsequently sentenced to 11 years in prison, later reduced on appeal to six years, and a ten-year ban on her legal practice, on charges of “acting against national security, collusion and propaganda against the regime, and membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” Her prosecution followed her work defending victims of human rights violations in Iran, and she spent three years in prison, at times in solitary confinement, until her release in September 2013.
Sotoudeh was awarded the Sakharov Prize in 2012 by the European Union’s Parliament for her defense of human rights.