The sentence against prominent writer, journalist, and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been reduced to six years on appeal. PEN International protests her continued detention 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 signatory, and calls for her immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Nasrin Sotoudeh was originally sentenced to 11 years in prison by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court on January 9, 2010, for "propaganda against the regime," "acting against national security," and "cooperating with the Center of Human Rights Defenders." The sentence was reduced to six years on appeal in mid-September 2011. The 20-year ban on Sotoudeh practicing law was also reduced to 10 years.

Iran’s official in charge of human rights, Mohammad Javad Larijani, claimed that Sotoudeh’s prosecution was not “due to her being a lawyer,” but because of her interviews in defense of her clients who had been arrested during the June 2009 crackdown, which Larijani labeled as “propaganda against the state.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh, aged 45 and a mother of two young children aged 3 and 11, 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 Center 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 during questioning. Sotoudeh is held in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she has been on hunger strike for much of the time since her arrest. Since her arrest Nasrin Sotoudeh 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 phone calls from relatives. She is recently said to have been denied family visits for three weeks after protesting conditions of detention in Evin prison.
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 on women’s rights written for a special issue of Daricheh for the occasion of March 8 (Women’s Day) earlier this year. Following the launch of the One Million Signatures Campaign for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws by several leading Iranian women activists in August 2006, and the widespread growth of the women's rights movement in Iran, she has represented many women's rights activists, including Parvin Ardalan, a well-known PEN case. She 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 of those arrested have received lengthy sentences.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the detention of writer, journalist, and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to free 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;
  • 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
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.