(NEW YORK)—In response to the news that Reza Khandan–the husband of prominent human rights lawyer, writer, and PEN America 2011 Freedom to Write honoree Nasrin Sotoudeh–has been summoned to prison in Iran, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of PEN America’s Expression at Risk programs, made the following statement:

“The summons recently issued to Reza Khandan, which will pull him away from his family and into Iran’s notorious and overcrowded prisons, is an outrage. For more than a decade, his wife Nasrin Sotoudeh has been a leading voice of conscience in Iran, working, writing, and speaking out against injustice and in support of fundamental human rights and the rule of law. For this, she and her family have been subject to periods of lengthy detention, trumped-up legal charges and prison sentences, and other forms of harassment, including travel bans. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Iranian authorities’ latest attempt to intimidate her into silence by summoning her husband to report to jail to serve out a 2019 politically-motivated sentence, and we call for the decision to be reviewed and vacated.”

In September 2018, Khandan, was arrested and charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” and “colluding to commit crimes against national security,” after posting several updates about his wife’s June 2018 arrest online and protesting against the mandatory hijab law.

He was released on bail in December, but in January 2019 Khandan and another activist, Farhad Meysami, were sentenced to six years in prison. In March 2019, Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to a total of 38 years and 148 lashes on a range of charges; she is currently conditionally released from serving this sentence in prison and is on an extended medical furlough.

Just last week, Sotoudeh appeared on CNN to call for Meysami’s release. Meysami’s life was gravely at risk after a lengthy hunger strike while in prison; he was freed from the notorious Evin Prison on February 10. 

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: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057