(New York, NY) — PEN America today condemned Iranian authorities for ordering the re-imprisonment of women’s rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, winner of the 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Sotoudeh had been granted a temporary furlough on November 7 after she sustained a lengthy hunger strike and a bout with COVID-19. PEN America has repeatedly called for Sotoudeh’s freedom and has marshaled thousands to sign a petition demanding her permanent release.

“After contracting COVID-19 and sustaining a weeks-long hunger strike, Nasrin is now being ordered back behind bars,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of PEN America’s Free Expression At Risk Programs. “It’s a stunning abrogation of her basic rights, and directly in contravention of the guidance of health professionals. She is still in quarantine, unable to hug her own children. Instead of giving her time to recover and releasing her permanently, Iranian authorities are sentencing Nasrin to an uncertain and potentially fatal sentence. It’s time to end the farce. Nasrin is a defender of women’s rights, a writer and lawyer with a forceful outlook who has committed no crime. We call on Iran’s government to permanently free Nasrin, to cease its harassment of her and her family, and to respond to Nasrin’s renewed call for the release of other political prisoners, particularly Ahmadreza Djalali, the Iranian-Swedish academic who is reportedly at imminent risk of execution.”

Sotoudeh was first arrested two years ago on charges of collusion, spreading propaganda, and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. She was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes in 2019, of which she must serve at least 12 years. On Wednesday, PEN America joined a letter appealing to Iran’s supreme leader to quash the unjust conviction and sentence against Sotoudeh, as well as the pending sentence against her husband, Reza Khandan.