Iran: Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh

The lawyer Nasrin Sotudeh poses for a portrait in her flat in Tehran while being on leave from the prison for several days. Photo: Kaveh Rostamkhani

Mohammad Javad Zarif,

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98-21-66743149;


Dear Mohammad Javad Zarif,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

I am writing to voice my deep concern about the ongoing judicial harassment against human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a prominent human rights lawyer who in recent months has acted as the lawyer for women’s rights activists who protested against the compulsory veiling in Iran and were subsequently prosecuted. According to her husband, Reza Khandan, Nasrin Sotoudeh was informed that she will be imprisoned for five years, however neither of them are aware of the charges against her.

According to the information received form Front Line Defenders, On 25 August 2018, human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh began a hunger strike in protest against her judicial harassment and the continuing pressure which is being exerted on her family, relatives and friends. The defender was arrested in June and has been in the women’s ward of Evin Prison since.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human rights defender and lawyer who in recent months has represented a number of women’s rights defenders who have faced charges as a result of their protests against compulsory veiling in Iran. The defender has also actively criticised the new limit which has been imposed by the Iranian judicial system on the number of state-approved lawyers which are permitted to defend political and security based cases.

On 25 August 2018, human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh began a hunger strike in protest against her judicial harassment and the continuing pressure which is being exerted on her family, relatives and friends. The next day, the Assistant Prosecutor and two other judicial authorities filed three new charges against her for “urging a referendum,” “assisting in the formation of house churches” and “organising protest rallies”. The human rights defender believes that these charges have been filed as a result of her failure to attend a court hearing on 15 August 2018, when she was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia for “propaganda against the state”, “assembly against national security” and “espionage”. The defender has lodged an appeal against these convictions.

On 18 August 2018, at approximately 8 a.m., three agents of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, holding a warrant from Branch 7 of the Revolutionary Court in Evin Prison, raided Nasrin Sotoudeh’s house while her children were asleep. The agents also raided the house of her sister-in-law. It is believed that the agents were searching for objects related to the defender’s human rights work, such as badges reading “I oppose the compulsory Hijab”.

In recent months, arrests of human rights lawyers and defenders have intensified in Iran. The judicial system of Iran has targeted human rights lawyers by limiting their ability to freely represent clients, through the promulgation of a restrictive list of approved legal representatives which are permitted to represent political prisoners.

I am seriously concerned by the conviction and judicial harassment against Nasrin Soutoudeh, which I believe is solely a result of her legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of human rights, and urges the authorities in Iran to immediately quash her conviction, release her, and discontinue all other judicial proceedings against her. Further I am  concerned by the harassment of the defender’s relatives and requests the authorities to immediately cease such actions.


Actions requested:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh, as Front Line Defenders believes she is being held solely as a result of her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights;

2. Drop all charges against her;

3. Ensure that the treatment of Nasrin Sotoudeh, while in detention, adheres to the conditions set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Iran are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including deprivation of liberty and judicial harassment.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes
Journalist and Human Rights Activist
York, United Kingdom

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