Tunisia: Levée des recherches contre Seif Eddine Makhlouf, Mehdi Zagrouba, Abdellatif Aloui et Mohamed Affes

02/08/21

Le juge d’instruction près du Tribunal militaire de première instance a décidé, lundi 2 août 2021, la Levée des recherches contre Seif Eddine Makhlouf, Mehdi Zagrouban, Nidhal Saoudi, Abdellatif Aloui et Mohamed Affes, et ce, jusqu’à l’achèvement des procédures judiciaires à leur encontre.

Notons que les députés Al Karama et l’avocat Mehdi Zagrouba sont impliqué dans l’affaire de l’aéroport, où ils sont intervenus pour faciliter le passage d’une citoyenne fichée S17.

https://www.businessnews.com.tn/levee-des-reeres-contre-seif-eddine-makhlouf-mehdi-zagrouba-abdellatif-aloui-et-mohamed-affes,520,110825,3

https://www.mosaiquefm.net/fr/actualite-national-tunisie/938995/annulation-du-mandat-d-amener-de-l-avocat-mehdi-zagrouba

https://www.tunisienumerique.com/tunisie-ordonnance-dabandon-de-poursuite-en-faveur-dun-avocat-et-de-4-deputes/

https://www.tunisienumerique.com/tunisie-samir-ben-amor-les-forces-securitaires-encerclent-le-tribunal-de-premiere-instance-de-tunis-audio/

https://ellyssanews.wordpress.com/2021/08/02/annulation-du-mandat-damener-de-lavocat-mehdi-zagrouba/

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/tunisia-coup-bar-association-under-siege-security-forces-seek-arrest-lawyer (ENGLISH)

https://www.france24.com/en/africa/20210801-security-forces-in-tunisia-arrest-two-mps-from-party-opposed-to-president-s-consolidation-of-power

A year after taboo on Thai king broken, 103 face jail for royal insult

03/08/21

Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa arrested and charged | Front Line Defenders

In the year since making an unprecedented, taboo-breaking speech openly calling for discussion on the role of Thailand’s powerful king, human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa has spent months in jail, charged with the crime of defaming the monarchy.

He’s one of 103 people from Thailand’s youth-led anti-government protests now charged with insulting or threatening King Maha Vajiralongkorn or his immediate family, a crime punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment. Hundreds more face other criminal charges.

Arnon, 36, says he has no regrets and vows the prosecutions won’t crush the anti-government movement, which in recent weeks has been building again.

“I think it has been worthwhile. Now the society can move forward and people can talk about the monarchy,” Arnon told Reuters in an interview while awaiting trial. He denies any wrongdoing.

The king has traditionally been portrayed as above reproach in conservative Thai culture, and any criticism of the monarch – whom some have viewed as semi-divine – is taboo as well as illegal.

Arnon, however, says talking openly about the monarchy is necessary in the push for democratic reform and the ouster of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who first came to power in a 2014 coup and has long associated himself with loyalty to the king.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri on Monday defended the criminal cases against protesters.

[…]

Arnon, an adviser to the youth movement, faces 12 separate lese majeste cases and spent 113 days imprisoned before being released on bail in June.

[…]

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-thailand-protests/a-year-after-taboo-on-thai-king-broken-103-face-jail-for-royal-insult-idUSKBN2F4004

https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4251379

https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2151531/16-people-arrested-for-offences-at-sunday-protest

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anon_Nampa

Three More Iranian Rights Attorneys Slapped with Unjust Prison Sentences

02/08/21

Three more human rights attorneys in Iran were handed unjust prison sentences in July 2021 amid an ongoing campaignto eliminate due process for activists and dissidents by intimidating the lawyers who defend them, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.

At least four defense lawyers were imprisoned in the country on trumped-up charges as of August 2021 (Nasrin Sotoudeh, Mohammad Najafi, Soheila Hejab, and Giti Pourfazel), and at least two additional lawyers (Farzaneh Zilabi and Mohammad Hadi Erfanian-Kaseb) were prosecuted on false charges in June 2021.

Javad Alikordi, a defense attorney and law professor, was taken to Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad, northeastern Iran, on July 15, 2021, to begin serving a two-year prison sentence for running a Telegram messaging app social media channel.

Any peaceful action, including appearing in public without your headscarf if you are a woman, or promoting human rights as a defense attorney can be prosecuted as a national security crime in Iran, where the state is not only trying to eliminate all forms of dissent and criticism of its policies but also imprisons the lawyers who try to defend activists.

Alikordi, a former member of the City Council in Sabzevar, Khorasan Razavi Province, was arrested by Intelligence Ministry agents in Mashhad on April 22, 2020, and held in solitary confinement for more than a month.

He was tried at Branch 4 of the Revolutionary Court in Mashhad presided by Judge Mansouri [first name unknown] at an unknown date and convicted of “creating and managing a channel on Telegram (messaging app) with the intention of overthrowing the state” (6.5 years in prison), “insulting the supreme leader” (1.5 years), and “propaganda against the state” (eight months).

Upon appeal, his 6.5-year prison sentence for “creating and managing a channel on Telegram (messaging app) with the intention of overthrowing the state” was reduced to two years in prison, the length of time he must remain behind bars according to Article 134 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code.

Branch 37 of the Appeals Court in Khorasan Razavi Province meanwhile upheld other punishments against Alikordi, including a two-year ban on teaching, a two-year ban on traveling abroad, and a two-year ban on membership in political and social groups.  

Amirsalar Davoudianother defense attorney who was imprisoned for running a Telegram channel, learned that the Tehran Revolutionary Court re-issued a sentence of 30 years in prison and 111 lashes that was initially revoked by the Supreme Court.

[…]

https://hana-hr.org/content/2021082-imprisonment-for-a-lawyer-charged-with-acting-against-the-islamic-republic-of-iran

https://iranhr.net/en/articles/4831/

https://protect-lawyers.org/en/item/mohammad-najafi-3/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amirsalar_Davoudi

https://www.dw.com/fa-ir/%D8%AD%DA%A9%D9%85-%DB%B3%DB%B0-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D9%88%DA%A9%DB%8C%D9%84-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%DA%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%A3%DB%8C%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%B4%D8%AF/a-58723888 (FARSI)

Tunisia: L’avocat Mehdi Zagrouba en sit-in au bureau de l’Ordre des avocats

02/08/21

Le bureau est encerclé par les forces de l’ordre dans le but de l’appréhender, pour son implication dans “l’affaire de l’aéroport”, selon une publication partagée sur la page officielle du chef du Bloc al-Karama, Seifeddine Makhlouf

L’avocat Mehdi Zagrouba effectue un sit-in au bureau de l’Ordre des avocats, qui se trouve au Tribunal de première instance de Tunis, sur fond de son implication dans l’affaire de l’aéroport de Tunis-Carthage survenue le 15 mars 2021.

C’est ce qui ressort d’une publication partagée lundi sur Facebook, par le président de la Coalition al-Karama, Seifeddine Makhlouf.

Makhlouf a fait savoir que Mehdi Zagrouba était actuellement au bureau du bâtonnier et que plusieurs policiers encerclaient les lieux dans le but de l’arrêter.

Et d’ajouter : “Nous ne reconnaîtrons pas les procès des civils devant les tribunaux militaires. Nous avons défendu le droit d’une femme tunisienne à la libre circulation en l’absence de toute interdiction judiciaire”. Poursuivant : “Nous ne sommes pas des criminels et nous ne répondrons à aucune question. Exécutez-nous mais vous ne nous verrez pas humiliés.”

Le 15 mars, les députés de la Coalition Al-Karama, menés par Seifeddine Makhlouf, avaient semé le chaos à l’aéroport Tunis-Carthage quand une femme tunisienne avait été interdite d’embarquer, en vertu de la procédure S17.

[…]

https://www.aa.com.tr/fr/afrique/tunisie-lavocat-mehdi-zagrouba-en-sit-in-au-bureau-de-l-ordre-des-avocats/2322136

https://www.mosaiquefm.net/fr/actualite-national-tunisie/938731/mehdi-zagrouba-se-refugie-au-siege-de-l-ordre-des-avocats

https://www.businessnews.com.tn/mehdi-zagrouba-en-sit-in-dans-les-locaux-de-lordre-des-avocats-au-tribunal-de-premiere-instance-de-tunis,520,110802,3

https://algerie9.com/mehdi-zagrouba-se-refugie-au-siege-de-lordre-des-avocats-58793

https://www.france24.com/fr/afrique/20210801-en-tunisie-inqui%C3%A9tudes-apr%C3%A8s-l-arrestation-de-plusieurs-d%C3%A9put%C3%A9s-critiques-du-pr%C3%A9sident-sa%C3%AFed

https://www.leparisien.fr/international/tunisie-larrestation-de-plusieurs-deputes-critiques-du-president-suscite-linquietude-01-08-2021-UNXCDQV3YRFJ3ABC4U2CCDMCUU.php

Egypt: The Bar Association, a plaintiff and an arbiter “About the decision to form a committee to censor what lawyers publish”

02/08/21

On 28 July 2021, the head of the bar association issued a decision to form a committee headed by the undersecretary/deputy head of the bar. Its membership includes 13 lawyers, some of whom occupy syndicate positions, whether in the structural hierarchy of the bar council (board) or subsidiary heads.

The substantial content of the resolution is to censor, monitor and evaluate what lawyers publish on the Internet, especially on social media.

The resolution starts with an angry introductory note and ends with an explicit threat to exercise oversight and censorship through a mechanism that lacks independence and that violates the law in terms of jurisdiction and evidence.

The following points highlight the most important features of this committee, how it works and how it poses a danger to freedom of expression, as well as its usurpation of the powers/roles of oversight bodies entrusted with the investigation of crimes.

An angry prelude leads to encroachment on the law and the rules of justice:

As a justification for an exceptional decision whose prelude is also exceptional, it carries a measure of anger and lacks the necessary amount of respect for the law; such as, but not limited to, the following phrase: “because it has failed all the efforts that I personally made for a year and a half to put an end to such offences, verbal insults, lies, and obscenities and bring them back the right way…. but these attempts failed….and this encouraged others not to implement prompt justice…which is what can no longer be continued nor tolerated….”

The resolution’s prelude refers to a certain incident where the head of the bar association failed to hold those responsible accountable in accordance with the law; a complaint/report, a technical investigation, filing or shelving a criminal case, a direct prosecution, a criminal judgment/ruling, or referral to a disciplinary body. Such a failed course in a specific case- or cases- leads to the violation of the law!

The danger here lies in the idea of inclining to seek or take revenge instead of implementing justice, from an institution that showed honorable stances in defending the law, its sovereignty and the values of justice.

Objective, mechanism, proof and punishment:

The decision set a goal for the aforementioned committee: “to monitor the insults, slander, libel and defamation subjected by any lawyer (male or female) or any individual, and that are published on the Internet and social media websites alongside newspapers or any audio publications.”

According to the resolution, the committee’s role is represented in “submitting a printed copy of a certain incident monitored on social media or a newspaper, or any audio or visual publication to the bar association’s disciplinary department, which, in turn, receives complaints from lawyers or individual people and submits a note to the head of the bar”.

The penalties stipulated in the resolution:

The resolution said that that the applicable article here is Paragraph 5 of Article 13 of the Advocates Law (Lawyers’ Law), which states “He should be of good conduct, good reputation, worthy of the due respect for the profession, and that no disciplinary judgments are issued against him or that his relationship with his job, profession is cut off for reasons related to his suitability for the job he was occupying.” The decision interpreted this article as follows: “According to what was stated in the last paragraph of the same article, not meeting any of the aforementioned conditions or the eight items mentioned in the abovementioned article…” the lawyer’s membership in the bar association will be cancelled by force of law from the date of not meeting of any of these conditions” ….. Hence the penalty will be the most severe- cancelling his membership”!

[…]

http://www.egylawyers.com/

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/countries/egypt/

https://www.anhri.info/?p=25534 (ARABIC)
(ESPANOL)

https://www.amnesty.nl/actueel/egypte-blijft-activisten-lastigvallen-tijdens-onderzoek-naar-buitenlandse-financiering (NEDERLANDS)

Joint statement on the repression against Belarusian lawyers and the disbarment of Dmitriy Laevski

02/08/21

IBAHRI | IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers

Together with more than 50 lawyers’ organizations, bar associations, civil society organisations and individual lawyers, Lawyers for Lawyers co-signed a joint statement on the mounting repression against Belarusian lawyers and the disbarment of Dmitriy Laevski.

Since peaceful protests in Belarus erupted in 2020, following the presidential election condemned by the international community, the law in Belarus has been turned into a tool of oppression, and lawyers – into victims of political persecution. Lawyers, who express views contrary to those of the government or represent peaceful protestors or opposition leaders in courts, face constant pressure. Repressions against law practitioners take multiple forms – including criminal persecution, administrative arrests, punitive disciplinary proceedings. In a span of ten months, more than twenty Belarusian lawyers, who took an active political and civic stance, have been deprived of the right to practice their profession.

Lawyer Dmitriy Laevski was disbarred by the decision of the Minsk City Bar Association on 9 July 2021. The decision on disbarment was taken by the disciplinary commission of the bar association on 8 July 2021. The decision on expelling Dmitriy Laevski was urgently taken within one day and only two days after a verdict was announced in the high-profile case of one of his clients Viktar Babaryka – ex-presidential candidate, key political opponent of Alexander Lukashenko and now a political prisoner.

On 8 July 2021, Dmitriy Laevski participated in two disciplinary proceedings. The first concerned the judicial appeal to the previously made decision of the disciplinary commission of the Minsk City Bar Association on reprimanding Dmitriy for his Facebook post, commenting about the recent amendments to the Law on Legal Practice. The second one – as a result of which Dmitriy was eventually disbarred – concerned the statement made during Viktar Babaryka’s hearing, which hinted at the innocence of Babaryka’s co-defendants, who pleaded guilty during the trial. It is precisely Dmitriy’s procedural position and the realization of his legal defense mission that became the ground for his disbarment. On 17 July 2021, Laevski appealed the decision of the disciplinary commission and published the full text of his appeal.

Being deprived of his license, Dmitriy Laevski cannot proceed to represent the interests of another high-profile political prisoner and lawyer Maksim Znak, whose trial is about to commence. Due to the disbarment, the defendant in one of the most resonant political cases has been deprived of his main defender.

[…]

Egypt: Renewed Judicial Harassment of Rights Defenders

31/07/21

Human rights activist Gamal Eid is seen at a court in Cairo, March 24, 2016.

 Egyptian authorities have summoned at least five prominent human rights defenders during July 2021 for questioning as part of a decade-old criminal investigation, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities have used Case 173 of 2011 to arbitrarily prosecute leading rights defenders and organizations over allegations of receiving foreign funds.

Since 2016, authorities have summoned for interrogation dozens of members of nongovernment groups, mostly human rights organizations, and placed over 30 of them on arbitrary travel ban lists, and frozen the assets of over a dozen organizations and individuals. Three of the five people summoned in July had not been questioned previously. The case has had a chilling impact on civic space in Egypt.

“Egyptian authorities should close Case 173 once and for all, and stop harassing independent rights organizations for doing their work,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The repeated summons, on top of travel bans and asset freezes, is clearly a tactic to stifle civic space in Egypt.”

Those summoned most recently include Mozn Hassan, a women’s rights defender and director of Nazra for Feminist Studies and Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, on July 29. On July 27, the authorities summoned Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, and Negad al-Borie, director of the law firm United Group. On July 15, the authorities summoned Azza Soliman, women’s rights defender and director of the Center for Egyptian Women Legal Awareness. The authorities had not previously summoned Bahgat, Eid, or al-Borie despite banning them several years ago from leaving the country.

Based on social media posts and statements by the activists following the latest prosecution sessions, the questions by the investigative judge, Ali Mokhtar, focused on the activists groups’ funding, in some cases as far back as 2005.

Judge Mokhtar allowed them to look at the prosecution file, which consisted mainly of National Security Agency allegations against them and their organizations, such as “tarnishing the image of the government” and in some cases referencing reports these organizations published about human rights abuses. The judge did not allow any of them to take copies of the prosecution files or inform them of the actual charges they are being investigated for.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said in a statement that Eid’s interrogation lasted about three hours and that the judge ordered him to return for another session on August 1. The statement said that the prosecution file, which Human Rights Watch has not seen, included National Security Agency allegations that Eid and ANHRI had played a role in the country’s 2011 nationwide uprising, and that ANHRI had received funding from Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). CPJ has denied those allegations. Human Rights Watch is typically not a grant-making organization, Human Rights Watch said.

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/07/31/egypt-renewed-judicial-harassment-rights-defenders

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/07/egypt-crackdown-on-human-rights-defenders-continues-amid-ongoing-foreign-funding-investigation/

https://www.madamasr.com/en/2021/07/28/feature/politics/government-source-authorities-inclined-to-close-long-running-case-targeting-ngos-yet-travel-bans-may-remain/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azza_Soliman

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamal_Eid

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azza_Soliman (FRANCAIS)

https://www.giustiziainsieme.it/it/il-magistrato/1894-mahienour-el-masry-difendere-ad-ogni-costo-i-diritti-umani-in-egitto-prima-e-dopo-la-rivoluzione-del-nilo-di-federico-cappelletti (ITALIANO)

China: Lawyer’s Account of Meeting With Detained Civil Rights Activist Ding Jiaxi

15/07/21

July 13, 2021, a summer day in Beijing. The sun was emerging after a rain shower. I waded through puddles on the road heading for Beijing South Railway Station.

It was getting pretty late when the high-speed train arrived in Linyi. Getting off the train, I ran into a former colleague whom I hadn’t seen for years but had long wanted to meet. Whether by a heartfelt wish or divine coincidence, it is such crossing of paths, accidental or planned, that fill life with richness. On this trip, I was to go to Linshu County Detention Center in Linyi City to meet Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜). Having been accused of subverting state power, he has been detained for more than a year and six months. I know Linyi because of a blind citizen who years ago was imprisoned, and placed under house arrest after being released from prison, for helping victims of China’s violent birth control policy.

On the morning of July 14, I came to the Linshu County Detention Center and was told by the police at reception to “wait for notice” after submitting a request form for interviewing my client.

In the afternoon, I went to the Linyi City Procuratorate, which was responsible for the case, and contacted the prosecutor of the case asking for continuing to review the case file. Ding Jiaxi was placed under residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) from December 26 2019 until June 19 2020, when his arrest was approved. After the end of the two-month investigation period, the Shandong Provincial Procuratorate three times approved the extension of the investigation period for five months. On January 18, 2021, after the completion of the public security investigation, the case was transferred to the Linyi City Procuratorate for review and prosecution, and the latter twice returned the case to the Public SecurityBureau for supplementary investigation. Currently, the case is under a third review by the Linyi City Procuratorate.

Up until then, the Procuratorate had informed the defense lawyers that because the case “involved state secrets,” they were not allowed to take photos or make copies of the case files and were only allowed to review them under the prosecutors’ supervision. The defense lawyers believe that this restriction on copying case files violates Criminal Procedure Law and restricts lawyers’ defense rights. They filed objections requesting to correct errors and to allow lawyers to take photos or copy case files, but the requests were denied. There are more than 40 volumes of files with information on many people, time, places, procedures, and evidence. Not being allowed to copy files has impeded the lawyers from getting all the facts of the case and preparing for the defense.

Just as I finished reviewing the case files in the evening and was walking out of the Linyi Municipality Procuratorate building, the Linshu County Detention Center called and informed me that I was allowed to meet Ding Jiaxi in the afternoon of July 15.

On the morning of July 15, with the half-day spare time before the meeting, I went to the Linyi Municipality Procuratorate again and reviewed some key procedures and evidence, the two supplementary investigation case files submitted by the Public Security Bureau, and other related files.

[…]

https://chinachange.org/2021/07/30/lawyers-account-of-meeting-with-detained-civil-rights-activist-ding-jiaxi/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-ding-jiaxi

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/ren-quanniu-barred-establishing-legal-services-company

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/chinese-farmer-who-praised-lawyers-sentenced-to-18-years-xi-jinping-beijing-chinese-hebei-b1892040.html

Nicaragua: Ortega’s Police Arrest Defense Attorney Maria Oviedo

30/07/21

There are now 31 new political prisoners since the end of May and over 140 total.

The Police of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo arrested lawyer Maria Oviedo, coordinator of the special legal team of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), on Thursday July 29th in Leon, confirmed that human rights organization.

The president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH), Vilma Nunez, said that Oviedo was at her mother’s house when two police vehicles and around thirty policemen arrived to arrest her. She was then taken from Leon to the infamous New El Chipote Police Complex, in Managua.

At first, the reasons for the arrest were unknown. “They took her out of her mother’s house, where she was brushing her teeth. They did not let her take anything with her. They just took her away (…),” assured Nunez.

Later it became known that Oviedo was arrested for the catch-all treason Law 1055, used to imprison opposition leaders, politicians and activists.

The capture occurs in a context of worsening governmental repression against opponents, which has left dozens of new political prisoners, and greater risk for their defense lawyers, who have denounced, under anonymity, being victims of harassment, threats and criminalization of their profession. With Oviedo, there are 31 Nicaraguans, including seven presidential candidates arrested in the latest wave of repression.

Oviedo participated last Sunday in the online Esta Semana program to analyze the violations of the rights of recent political prisoners, some with more than 60 days incommunicado from their relatives and lawyers.

The lawyer questioned the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code, which states that a person can be detained for up to 90 days for the purpose of “investigation,” which she considered unconstitutional and totally in violation of human rights, she said on that occasion.

[…]

https://www.vice.com/amp/en/article/5dbq9k/a-brutal-crackdown-in-nicaragua-is-fueling-a-new-wave-of-migrants-to-the-us

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210725-another-presidential-hopeful-arrested-in-nicaragua

(ESPANOL)

https://www.laprensa.com.ni/2021/07/30/politica/2858697-detencion-judicial-por-90-dias-para-abogada-maria-oviedo-anuncia-la-fiscalia

https://100noticias.com.ni/nacionales/109100-policia-maria-oviedo-delito-traicion-patria/?mobile

CADAL on Twitter: "Policía de #Nicaragua detuvo a la abogada defensora de  #DerechosHumanos María Oviedo y la trasladó a la Dirección de Auxilio  Judicial El Chipote, ubicada en Managua. Pedimos se respeten

Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iranian Rights Lawyer, Home Temporarily: “We Are Hoping for a Better Future That Can Protect Us”

30/07/21

nasrin-sotoudeh-iran-health-release-prison

Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh is temporarily home from prison and speaking about her experiences as a political prisoner.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is home from prison on temporary medical leave. That is a simple thing to write, but there is so much emotion, strength, sacrifice, vision and history involved. And so much at stake in what will come next.

The internationally acclaimed Iranian human rights attorney was arrested in June 2018 because of her work representing opposition activists, religious minorities and women who publicly protested Iran’s mandatory hijab law. Nasrin was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes on charges that included “inciting corruption and prostitution,” “disrupting public order,” “propaganda against the state” and “collusion against national security.” She had previously been imprisoned from 2010 to 2013 on similar charges—a heavy price to pay for loving one’s country.

Nelson Mandela said, “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.” The Iranian government’s persecution of Sotoudeh reflects a systemic disregard for the needs, rights and dignity of its citizens.

In August 2020, Nasrin launched a 46-day hunger strike in Evin Prison that brought global attention to poor health conditions in Iranian prisons. She was punished for her protest by being transferred, despite a serious heart condition, to an overcrowded windowless cell in the notoriously unsanitary Qarchak Women’s Prison.

Unsurprisingly, she quickly caught a severe case of COVID-19. She was briefly released in January for an overdue angioplasty, but on the day she was abruptly forced to return to prison, she was also informed the authorities had frozen her family’s bank accounts.

Now Nasrin is briefly back home with her husband Reza Khandan, their daughter Mehraveh, and their son Nima. They each live with the fear and uncertainty that the judicial system uses to psychologically break prisoners and their families. However, this is a family that will not be broken.

A few days after her homecoming, my wife Marcia Ross and I talked with Nasrin and Reza, translated by our mutual friend, writer Amir Soltani. We produced the documentary Nasrin, streaming on Hulu, and it has been a great life-changing privilege to become long-distance friends with this remarkable couple.

[…]