Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (13 June) on the detention of Iranian human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh:
I was shocked to hear today that Nasrin Sotoudeh has been taken into custody once again.
Nasrin Sotoudeh – lawyer, human rights activist and winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought – has campaigned long and tirelessly for human rights in Iran, and has already spent several years in prison for her efforts.
Ms Sotoudeh’s recent work has included defending a female artist charged with blasphemy and two young Iranians who were arrested for protesting against the compulsory wearing of headscarfs.
Now she is back in prison herself. I am very concerned.
Nasrin Sotoudah’s husband has reported that the Iranian human rights activist and Sakharov Prize winner was taken into custody on 13 June. The reason for this fresh detention is unclear.
Nasrin Sotoudeh is a well known Iranian human rights lawyer. Her clients have included prisoners on death row for crimes committed as minors, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and her sister Nushin Ebadi, the journalist Isa Saharkhiz and Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, the leader of the banned Democratic Front of Iran. She has on several occasions spoken publicly about rule of law deficiencies in Iran and inadequacies in its justice system. In 2010, Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to eleven years in jail for alleged propaganda offences. The sentence was later reduced to six years. In 2012, she was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in absentia, together with Jafar Panahi, a prize which has been awarded annually since 1988. She was released from prison in 2013. Her ban on working was lifted in 2014.
In the past months she had taken on cases including the defence of Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar, who had been charged with blasphemy, and the defence of two young women who had been arrested following their public protest against the obligation to wear headscarfs.