Nasrin Sotoudeh Released on Temporary Leave from Prison
Human Rights Lawyer, Weakened from Lack of Proper Medical Care, Now Home in Tehran
November 7, 2020—Imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was released on temporary furlough today from Gharchak Prison in the Iranian city of Varamin, south of Tehran, her husband Reza Khandan told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“We welcome Nasrin Sotoudeh’s release on temporary furlough and call on the authorities in Iran to permanently release her,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of CHRI.
“Sotoudeh never should have been imprisoned to begin with and has suffered egregious harm due to lack of medical care,” Ghaemi said.
Sotoudeh, who has been jailed multiple times for her peaceful human rights work as a defense attorney in Iran, has been in prison since she was arrested in June 2018 for “encouraging prostitution” for advocating against compulsory hijab.
On August 11, 2020, she began a hunger strike to protest the situation of Iran’s political prisoners, especially their exclusion from prisoner release programs aimed at stemming the tide of COVID-19 in the country’s overcrowded and unhygienic prisons.
She was hospitalized on September 19 as her medical condition deteriorated—only to be sent back to Evin prison on September 23, despite her worsening condition.
On September 26, when Sotoudeh ended her hunger strike, her husband explained that the prison doctors were “shocked” that she had been returned to prison in her condition, and “strongly protested,” as during her hospitalization severe cardiac issues were identified.
Khandan also reported that during her hospitalization, Sotoudeh was exposed to guards who later tested positive for COVID-19.
On October 20, she was transferred from Evin Prison to the notoriously harsh and dangerous Gharchak Prison (also spelled Qarchak), despite serious continuing cardiac and pulmonary issues that required her hospitalization.
Sotoudeh is serving a 38-year sentence (12 years of which she must serve before becoming eligible for release) for defending basic civil and political liberties in Iran.