Iranian lawyer gets 7 years for defending women who refused headscarves

Iranian humman rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh seen in this 2013

Iranian humman rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh seen in this 2013

Nasrin Sotoudeh, an internationally renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran, was handed a new sentence on Monday which her husband said was 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

The UN investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, raised Sotoudeh's case at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, saying that last week she "was reportedly convicted of charges relating to her work and could face a lengthy prison sentence". Her conviction has been widely criticized.

Her husband Reza Khandan was sentenced to six years in jail, also for security related charges, his lawyer Mohammad Moghimi said in January.

She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of the ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She has been given the long prison term and the sentence of lashes as a result.

Earlier today, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported that Judge Mohammad Moghiseh had sentenced Sotoudeh to five years for "plotting against the state" and two more years for insulting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov human rights prize. At the time, Sotoudeh said that the Iranian Bar Association had been under pressure to cancel her license since she was released from jail the previous year.

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This report did not provide further details or clarify whether the judge was referring to a separate case.

Prior to her arrest in June, she represented a number of women arrested for appearing in public without a headscarf, or hijab - a punishable offence.

"Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women's rights and speaking out against the death penalty - it is utterly outrageous that Iran's authorities are punishing her for her human rights work".

"The global community, notably the European Union, which has an ongoing dialogue with Iran, must take a strong public stand against this disgraceful conviction and urgently intervene to ensure that she is released immediately and unconditionally".

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