Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh among freed Iranian political prisoners
Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer/journalist Nasrin Sotoudeh and 10 other political prisoners jailed for their involvement in the 2009 anti-government protests, were freed today Wednesday September 18.
Their release takes place a week before new moderate President Hassan Rowhani, who has promised more freedoms in Iran, travels to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
The ISNA news agency said that among the 11 political prisoners released were former deputy foreign minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, reformist politician Feyzollah Arabsorkhi and reformist journalist Mahsa Amirabadi. They had been rounded up for alleged involvement in anti-government protests in 2009 in the aftermath of the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Sotoudeh had been imprisoned since 2010 for her human rights work. She had been serving an 11-year prison sentence for defending political prisoners and aiding Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi.
In a statement, PEN American Center called Sotoudeh’s release t “a victory for all men and women fighting for justice for their fellow countrymen.” Sotoudeh is the winner of the 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Last year, Sotoudeh also won the European parliament’s prestigious Sakharov rights prize.
“We are thrilled that Nasrin Sotoudeh was finally granted her freedom today in Iran after being treated so harshly in prison—a situation in which she should never have been in the first place,” said PEN American Center Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel. “We hope that all charges against her will be dropped and that she will be free to continue her profession, writing and defending women, children, and activists, and that President Rouhani will continue this trend and release all writers who have been imprisoned in Iran simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh was serving a six-year sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on anti-state charges for comments she gave the media in defense of her clients. During the course of her detention and imprisonment, Sotoudeh waged several hunger strikes to protest the treatment against her and her family. Last fall she went on a hunger strike to protest travel restrictions against her 12-year-old daughter that lasted 49 days and caused her weight to drop to a dangerously low 95 lbs.