October 24, 2011

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street
Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to protest the continued detention of prominent writer, journalist, lawyer, and 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award winner Nasrin Sotoudeh.    

According to our information, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s sentence was reduced from 11 years to six on appeal in mid-September, and her 20-year disbarment was also reduced to 10 years. She remains incarcerated in Ward 209 of Evin Prison, where she is often denied visits with her family in violation of the Iranian Penal Code, which guarantees the right to weekly visitation and phone calls from relatives, and has repeatedly gone on hunger strike to protest her treatment. Concerns for her well-being are mounting.

Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on September 4, 2010, after being summoned to the special court in Evin Prison following a raid on her home on August 29, 2010. On January 9, 2011, Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Sotoudeh to a total of 11 years in prison—one year for “spreading lies against the state,” five years for “acting against national security,” and another five years for “cooperating with the Center for Human Rights Defenders.” She is believed to have been targeted for interviews she gave to the press in defense of her clients arrested during the disputed presidential elections of June 2009. Sotoudeh’s lawyer was prevented from representing her in court and from accompanying her during questioning

PEN American Center remains seriously concerned for the well-being of its 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award recipient, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and believes she has been imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression. We therefore call for her immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, and for the release of all others imprisoned in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 6 674 790 (via Foreign Ministry)

His Excellency Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United Nations
622 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086

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