(NEW YORK) – PEN America has expressed its outrage at the arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian lawyer, writer, and outspoken human rights champion reportedly arrested and beaten while attending the funeral of 17-year-old Armita Geravand. 

“Nasrin is one of the most prominent and fearless heroines in the struggle for human rights in Iran.  She has withstood over a decade of harassment, imprisonment, and hunger strikes without flinching. A talented lawyer, Nasrin has represented some of the country’s most vocal dissidents and championed the rights of women and children to free expression and human rights. For Nasrin to be imprisoned once again for expressing solidarity with the family of a teenager who lost her life, apparently for the crime of refusing to cover her hair, is yet another example of the Iranian government’s ruthless indifference to the humanity of its women and girls. We demand Nasrin’s immediate and unconditional release,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel.

Armita Geravand is only the latest young Iranian woman to die at the hands of Iran’s hijab police as part of their relentless campaign to suppress the rights and dignity of Iranian women. Their physical engagement with Geravand in the Tehran metro in early October, captured on video, resulted in a fatal head injury.

Sotoudeh, who was not wearing a hijab at the funeral service, is apparently being held at the Vozara Detention Center, which is used to hold women accused of failing to wear the mandatory hijab, and is where Mahsa Amini was taken before her custodial death in September 2022.

Sotoudeh received PEN America’s 2011 Freedom to Write Award, and her case has been the focus of our advocacy ever since. We call for the immediate release of Nasrin along with all of the brave women and men currently imprisoned in Iran for daring to speak out against the current government, including Narges Mohammadi, the 2023 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write honoree and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Dietlind Lerner, [email protected], +1 310 699 8775