The United States on Tuesday condemned reports that the Iranian government sentenced human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh’s to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes. On Monday, Amnesty International demanded her immediate release and a quashing of her sentence.
Her husband Reza Khandan, on Facebook, said the verdict increases her imprisonment tenure to 38 years. In September 2016, she had been sentenced to five years in prison in another case.
US State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said the administration is outraged to hear reports about the sentencing. “This sentence is beyond barbaric,” Palladino said. “Her alleged crime was advocating for Iranian women’s rights and for defending other Iranian women who were arrested by the regime for peacefully protesting the mandatory hijab law. Nasrin was sentenced in absentia without a fair trial by the notorious revolutionary court, which is led by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh, an accused human rights violator.”
Washington demanded her immediate release. “The Iranian people deserve a government that respects their legitimate demands and the human rights of all in Iran, not one that subjects them to prosecution in a justice system led by accused human rights violators,” Palladino said.
Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy director, described the sentencing as the harshest against a human rights defender in Iran in the recent years. “Her conviction and sentence consolidate Iran’s reputation as a cruel oppressor of women’s rights,” he said.
Sotoudeh was arrested at her home on in June 2018. The charges against her include “inciting corruption and prostitution”, “openly committing a sinful act by... appearing in public without a hijab” and “disrupting public order”.
The organisation has urged “governments with influence over Iran” to lobby for her release. “The international 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.”
Meanwhile, the organisation said that the Islamic Republic News Agency had quoted Moghiseh as saying that Sotoudeh has been sentenced to seven years in prison for “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security” and “insulting the Supreme Leader”.
In 2012, she won the European Parliament’s Sakharov rights award in 2012 for her work on high-profile rights and political cases. She has several defended journalists and activists, including Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.