Sotoudeh’s Daughter Defends Herself in Court against Bogus Charges
Harassment of Family Members of Imprisoned Human Rights Attorney Intensifies
As part of a continuing campaign of harassment and manufactured prosecutions against the families of political prisoners and activists in Iran, Mehraveh Khandan, the 20-year-old daughter of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, appeared in a court on October 26, 2020, in Tehran to defend herself against the charge of “insult and assault” toward a prison guard.
She had been arrested at her family home without prior notice on August 17, 2020 on the charges, which stemmed from an argument she had with a female prison guard a year earlier, and was subsequently released on bail.
“Mehraveh’s trial was held today at Branch 1175 of the Qods Judicial Compound [in Tehran] with a complaint from Fatemeh Hosseinpour, a guard at the Evin Prison Women’s Ward,” Mehraveh’s father, Reza Khandan, wrote on Facebookon October 26.
“The esteemed lawyers Mr. Mostafa Nili and Ms. Shadi Halimi, as well as Mehraveh, presented their defense. The presiding judge asked the plaintiff to hand over a DVD containing a film recorded by the closed-circuit camera in the [prison] visiting hall.
“It was agreed that the DVD will be handed over on Saturday [October 31, 2020] so that the judge can issue a verdict on the basis of that and other evidence in the case. Meanwhile, a social worker from Gharchak Prison and the judiciary’s representative in Evin Prison petitioned for a reconciliation and discontinuation of the case but Mehraveh declined to accept.”
Charges Resulted from a Guard Who Felt “Insulted”
“There’s always tension in the visiting hall, especially in the area for face-to-face meetings,” Reza Khandan told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on October 17, 2020. “The guards always harass [prisoners and visitors] about their clothes or object when we say hello to other prisoners or look at them.
“The female guards are much more sensitive. Male guards give warnings or hurl insults once in a while but the female guards often interfere and scold you about every little thing. So there’s always a lot of tension and it’s always their fault because they come close to the family tables and inevitably they will complain about something.
“It was during one of these quarrels that one of the female guards felt insulted and lodged a complaint against Mehraveh.”
Sotoudeh Forgoes Family Visits Due to Provocations by Guards in Prison
As a result of the unsafe conditions in Iran’s prisons, where hostile and provocative behavior on the part of guards toward the visiting families of political prisoners can result in these kinds of sham prosecutions, Khandan noted on Facebook on October 24, 2020, that “due to the lack of safety in visiting area for family members, especially our children, Nasrin has foregone visits with family members.”
Harassment Meant to Intimidate Prisoners and Their Families into Silence
The harassment of the family members of political prisoners, activists and other human rights defenders, as well as the those of journalists and dissidents who are based abroad, is a longstanding policy of the authorities in Iran.
Threats and other forms of intimidation, as well as prosecutions on manufactured charges are among the tactics, along with explicit warnings for family members not to speak to the media.
The family of the imprisoned prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been especially targeted; in addition to the prosecution of her daughter, earlier this year the family’s bank account was also blocked by the authorities, cutting off needed funds for the family.