Abdolfattah Soltani

Amnesty International has lashed out against Iranian authorities for this weekend’s arrest of Abdolfattah Soltani, a prominent human rights lawyer, and is calling for his release.

In a statement, Amnesty International noted Soltani’s role in the establishment of the Human Rights Defenders Centre in Iran, along with Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi. The rights group reported: “Abdolfattah Soltani’s wife told the media that four security officers arrived at their home with her husband and, before taking him into custody, they confiscated a number of computers and documents."

Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Director, said: “Abdolfattah Soltani is one of the bravest human rights defenders in Iran. He has represented defendants in some of the most controversial human rights cases for more than a decade, refusing to bow to pressure from the Iranian authorities. Now he is again paying the price for that commitment;” .

Soltani was arrested on Saturday, and his family has not been informed of the charges against him or where he’s being held.

He was arrested previously in June of 2009 at his office and released after 70 days on bail of $100,000.

He was charged with “doubting the elections, propaganda against the regime and creating a group against national security.”

Soltani has been active as a defender of political prisoners since before the 1979 Revolution in Iran, and he has been detained on several occasions by the Islamic Republic for his defence of Nationalist-Religious and other political activists.

In 2008, the German city of Nuremberg recognized Soltani’s efforts by awarding him its human rights prize, which he was not allowed to receive in person because Iranian authorities banned him from traveling.

Amnesty International also noted the cases of Nasrin Sotoudeh and other Iranian lawyers. It condemned “the continuing harassment and arrest of Iranian defence lawyers” adding that they “not only directly violate their rights, but those of their clients, who are finding it increasingly difficult to find legal representation because of the deterrent effect of such arrests.”