August 2, 2016
Campaign Pledges Three Years Ago to Free Political Prisoners Now Ring Hollow
Dozens of human rights lawyers who have been imprisoned for years in Iran for defending civil rights and political prisoners, remain behind bars three years after President Hassan Rouhani came to office, despite his campaign pledge to free political prisoners.
Some have been jailed since Iran’s violent crackdown that followed the widely disputed presidential election in 2009. Among the lawyers who have been freed, many remain banned from practicing law or have been forced to leave the country. Others, such as human rights lawyer Giti Pourfazel, have resigned from their profession in dismay after years of relentless persecution from the security establishment.
Abdolfattah Soltani—currently held in Evin Prison’s Ward 350 in Tehran—co-founded the bannedDefenders of Human Rights Center and represented political and civil rights activists throughout his career. He was arrested on September 10, 2011 and sentenced to 18 years in prison by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court for “propaganda against the state,” “assembly and collusion against national security” and “earning illegitimate funds” for winning the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award in 2009, and banned from practicing law for 20 years.