PEN International condemns the 11-year sentence handed down on January 9, 2011, to prominent writer, journalist, and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was also banned from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years. PEN believes that she has been sentenced solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, the 11-year sentence was delivered by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on January 9, 2011. The sentence contains one year in prison for "propaganda against the regime," and a total of 10 years for the two charges of "acting against national security" and "violating the Islamic dress code (Hijab) in a filmed speech." She is believed to have been charged for critical interviews she gave to overseas media following the disputed June 2009 presidential election, and for her membership in the Association of Human Rights Defenders. Her lawyer stated that she has 20 days to appeal the sentence. After the sentence was delivered her husband was summoned for questioning by Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court, allegedly for interviews he had given to the media.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, aged 47 and a mother of two young children, was arrested on September 4, 2010, when she was summoned to the special court in Evin Prison on charges of "propaganda against the state," “cooperating with the Association of Human Rights Defenders,” and "conspiracy to disturb order." The arrest followed a raid on her home and office on August 29, 2010, by security officers who confiscated her files and documents. Sotoudeh's lawyer was not allowed to represent her in court or accompany her client during questioning. She is being held in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she has been on hunger strike for much of the time since her arrest. Concerns for her welfare are mounting. Since her arrest Nasrin Soutadeh has been allowed very limited access to her family in violation of the Iranian Penal Code, which guarantees the right to weekly visits and to receive phone calls from relatives.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is best known as a human rights lawyer and activist, but has also worked as a journalist for several reformist newspapers, including Jame'e. Since qualifying as a lawyer in 2003, she has specialized in women’s and children's rights, and has continued to write articles on these issues. Many of her articles have been rejected for publication, including a report written for a special issue of Daricheh on women’s rights for the occasion of International Women’s Day (March 8) last year. Following the August 2006 launch of the One Million Signatures Campaign for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws by several leading Iranian women activists, and the widespread growth of the women's rights movement in Iran, Sotoudeh has represented many women's rights activists including Parvin Ardalan, a well-known PEN case. Sotoudeh is a close associate of exiled lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, and has represented many imprisoned Iranian opposition activists arrested in the unprecedented crackdown on dissent following the disputed presidential elections of June 12, 2009. Arrests are continuing, and many have received lengthy sentences.

Write A Letter

  • Condemning the harsh prison sentence handed down to writer, journalist, and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling 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;
  • Ensuring that she has full access to family visits, legal representation and any necessary medical care while detained;
  • Seeking assurances of her well-being in detention.

Send Your Letter To

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

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: (Via Foreign Ministry) +98 21 6 674 790
(mark: "Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad")

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.

More information:
Hanging Juveniles Under the Age of 18 in Iran by Nasrin Sotoudeh
Execution of Minors and soghra’s file by Nasrin Sotoudeh