Nasrin Sotoudeh

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and prominent Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi have been shortlisted for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize.

The prize is named after the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov and is awarded each year to people or groups that have struggled for human rights and freedom of thought.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is serving a six-year sentence in Iran for her human rights activities and is barred from practicing law for ten years. Jafar Panahi, also an outspoken critic of the Iranian government’s crackdown on freedom of speech, has served jail time and been banned from making films in Iran.

Other names on the Sakharov short list are imprisoned Belarusian activist Ales Byalyatski, the founder of the Vyasna human rights centre in Belarus, and the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, who are serving a two-year sentence for staging an anti-government performance at a Moscow cathedral.

The prize, which includes 50,000 euros, will be awarded on October 26.