A group of eminent human rights lawyers and advocates called Tuesday for the unconditional and permanent release of Iranian activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, citing her medical condition and violations of Iran’s own constitution.
In an open letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the group, including former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler and Australia’s former chief justice Sir Michael Kirby, deplored the punishment meted out on the country’s leading human rights lawyer.
“The sentence was absurd. Thirty-eight years in prison and 148 lashes for doing nothing other than exercising her responsibilities as a lawyer under the law to protect freedoms protected by law. It is one of the most absurd cases,” said Mr. Cotler, who founded the Montreal-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre.
“Ten days ago she was released on furlough. That rarely happens with a political prisoner but this week she is supposed to report back to prison,” he added.
The open letter was signed by members of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, or IBAHRI, Pen America, Center for Human Rights in Iran and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.
Ms. Sotoudeh was jailed two years ago on allegations of spying and propaganda charges. She has represented Iranian opposition and human rights activists, including women charged for removing their head scarves.