Reuters- Nasrin Sotoudeh, an internationally renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran, was handed a new sentence on Monday which her husband said was 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.
Sotoudeh, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory head scarf, was arrested in June and charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader, her lawyer said.
She was jailed in 2010 for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security – charges she denied – and was released after serving half her six-year term. The European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov human rights prize.
A judge at a revolutionary court in Tehran, Mohammad Moqiseh, said on Monday Sotoudeh had been sentenced to five years for assembling against national security and two years for insulting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, wrote on Facebook that the sentence was decades in jail and 148 lashes, unusually harsh even for Iran which cracks down hard on dissent and regularly imposes death sentences for some crimes.
The news comes days after Iran appointed a new head of the judiciary – Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric who is a protégé of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The appointment is seen as weakening the political influence of President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate.
The U.N. investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, raised Sotoudeh’s case at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, saying that last week she “was reportedly convicted of charges relating to her work and could face a lengthy prison sentence.”
“Worrying patterns of intimidation, arrest, prosecution, and ill-treatment of human rights defenders, lawyers, and labor rights activists signal an increasingly severe state response,” Rehman said.
“An outrageous injustice”
The sentencing of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes in a new case against her is an outrageous injustice, said Amnesty International on Tuesday.
Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director. Philip Luther said: “It is absolutely shocking that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing nearly four decades in jail and 148 lashes for her peaceful human rights work, including her defence of women protesting against Iran’s degrading forced hijab (veiling) laws. Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and this obscene sentence quashed without delay,”
European Union also reacts to the Nasrin Sotoudeh’s conviction.
A statement of Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy says: “The recent conviction of Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh to at least seven years’ imprisonment is a worrying development.”
‘The EU expects an immediate review of her sentence as well as the conviction of her husband Reza Khandan, who was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in January 2019. The European Union also expects Iran to ensure that both Mr. Khandan and Ms. Sotoudeh’s right to appeal their sentences is protected.” The statement added.
On Wednesday 13 March, Reza Khandan, Sotudeh’s husband said to BBC Persian that her real, definitive sentence is 12 years prison term, based on a law that says the maximum punishment for a convict is the most severe ruled for any one of his or her potentially multiple accusations. The judge may consider a 150 % increase in the prison term if the accused is faced with more than three accusations.
Sotudeh was convicted to 33 years in prison for seven accusations in one of her cases, Khandan said.