Lawyer Calls on President Rouhani to Work For Human Rights Attorney Abdolfattah Soltani’s Release
Soltani Granted Furlough to Mourn Daughter’s Death
One of Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyers, Abdolfattah Soltani, was granted furlough from Evin Prison to mourn his daughter’s death on August 4, 2018.
Soltani’s 30-year-old daughter, Homa, had passed away on August 3 from a heart attack. Video clips posted on social media showed the moment Soltani was reunited with his remaining family at a mourning ceremony for his daughter. One clip shows Soltani breaking down into tears as he embraces his wife, Masoumeh Dehghan, who is wailing.
“I pledge in the presence of all the martyrs to always serve the people and work for the greatness of the country,” said Soltani in another clip showing him standing over his daughter’s grave. “I hope to God that we will always do the things that make the people happy. I pledge to never forget the people. I pledge in the presence of your good soul to never forget your mission to bring happiness and help the people. We will strive to bring a smile onto the faces of the people. I salute you all.”
It is not clear how long Soltani will be allowed to stay on furlough. On August 5, his lawyer Saeed Dehghan called on President Hassan Rouhani to seek Soltani’s release.
Soltani, 64, has been eligible for release since 2014 but the Intelligence Ministry, which operates under Rouhani, has blocked his freedom despite Soltani’s deteriorating health, according to his surviving daughter, Maede.
“They don’t want him to go free only because he insists on his rights and innocence,” Maede Soltani told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in September 2017.
“The judiciary isn’t impartial or independent. The real decision-maker is the Intelligence Ministry,” she added.
Soltani has been behind bars since 2011, serving a 13-year prison sentence for “being awarded the  Nuremberg International Human Rights Award,” “interviewing with media about his clients’ cases,” and “co-founding the Defenders of Human Rights Center.”
Soltani represented several detainees held on politically motivated charges in Iran throughout his career as one of Iran’s most fearless defense attorneys.
Former staffers of the now defunct center, Narges Mohammadi and Nasrin Sotoudeh (also a defense attorney), are also currently imprisoned in Evin Prison. Facing repeated threats that she would also be imprisoned, the center’s co-founder, Nobel Peace Laureate and attorney Shirin Ebadi, fled Iran in 2009.
In September 2017, a formerly imprisoned Baha’i faith leader said she would “never forget” Soltani’s brave attempts to defend her before she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
“In one of the court sessions, after a lot of wrangling, our lawyers were given a chance to present a defense. I remember Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, the prominent lawyer who I greatly respect, standing up and rejecting the charges on three grounds,” Mahvash Sabet told CHRI.
“Despite their firm belief in Islam, he [attorney Hadi Esmailzadeh] and Mr. Soltani defended us regardless of our beliefs,” she “What mattered to them was that their clients were human beings and citizens of this country, just like them.”
Article 58 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code allows prisoners to be conditionally released after serving a third of their sentence.