Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Sentenced to '38 Years in Prison, 148 Lashes'

Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

The Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the worst human rights abusers in the world and top state sponsor of global terrorism, has been appointed a seat on the United Nations' Women's Rights Committee, Hillel Neuer of the watchdog group UN Watch reported Wednesday.

Sotoudeh, the co-winner of the European Parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, a year ago represented several of the women detained for removing their head scarves in public to protest against the country's Islamic dress code. Human rights organisation Amnesty International has called the punishment "outrageous injustice".

Iran should immediately free prominent human rights lawyer and defender Nasrin Sotoudeh from jail pending a review of her conviction and sentence, say United Nations human rights experts*. The charges include "colluding against the system" and "insulting" Iran's supreme leader. After another trial, the court sentenced her to a total of 38 years and 148 lashes.

Several Members of Parliament in Norway are also alarmed and strongly oppose her imprisonment and especially any lashes.

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At the time of the arrest, last year, the Iranian authorities had informed the leader of the fight against the mandatory veil that she had received a sentence in absentia of five years in prison for espionage.

"I don't know how many years she got for each of the charges because my conversation with Nasrin only lasted a few minutes and we didn't get to the details", the center quoted Khandan as saying.

Between 2010 and 2013 she was arrested and imprisoned for her political activity (propaganda against the state and attack on national security). If not, it has not been determined why what he said differs from what Sotoudeh was told. "5 years of prison for the first case and 33 years of prison with 148 lashes, for the second case".

"Regardless of the length, any prison sentence imposed for defending human rights defenders and their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly amounts to arbitrary detention", they said.

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"This sentence is unjust, illogical and unusual".

"In view of the apparent lack of a fair trial and concerns about the arbitrary nature of the charges, we urge the Iranian authorities to immediately review Ms. Sotoudeh's conviction, release her pending the outcome of the review, and ensure that her human and legal rights are fully guaranteed", the experts said.

He told Aljazeera: "It is absolutely shocking that Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing almost four decades in jail and 148 lashes for her peaceful human rights work, including her defence of women protesting against Iran's degrading forced hijab [headscarf] laws".

"Human rights should be defended, not prosecuted", he added.

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