Urgent Interventions

Deterioration of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s health while in detention and arbitrary arrest of her daughter

New information

IRN 001 / 0618 / OBS 085.2

Arbitrarydetention /

Deteriorationof health condition /

Arbitrary arrest


August 21, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership ofFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received newinformation and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation inIran.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by the League for the Defence of HumanRights in Iran (LDDHI) about the hunger strike and consequent deterioration ofthe health of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer and 2012laureate of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, and of the arbitrary arrest of herdaughter, Ms. Mehraveh Khandan. Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh is currently detained in Tehran’s Evin prison.

According to the informationreceived, on August 17, 2020, at around 11am, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh’s daughter,Ms. Mehraveh Khandan, was arrested by five male security agents at her home in Tehranand taken to Evin prison’s security court. The reasons for her arrest were notknown at the time, but her family later reported that she was accused ofphysically assaulting a female security officer who had warned her aboutwearing a hijab in Evin prison in 2019. The Observatory believes that thisaction against Ms. Mehraveh Khandan was taken in an attempt to pressure Ms.Nasrin Sotoudeh and in retaliation against her hunger strike, which wasfollowed by scores of political prisoners[1].Ms. Mehraveh Khandan was released on bail based on personal guarantee after afew hours.

Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh went on a hungerstrike on August 11, 2020 to protest against: the continued arbitrary detentionof all human rights defenders and political prisoners amid the COVID-19pandemic; the abysmal conditions of detention of human rights defenders andpolitical prisoners in the country; and multiple breaches to theirright to a fair trial, calling for their immediate release. Following the arrest of herdaughter, Ms. Sotoudeh mentioned to fellow inmates that she would refrain fromdrinking liquids in protest to her daughter’s arrest. On August 19, 2020, ataround 7pm, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was transferred to the clinic of Evin prisonafter her health deteriorated due to her hunger strike.

The Observatory recalls that NasrinSotoudeh’s has been detained since June 13, 2018 and was sentenced to a totalof 38.5 years in jail and 148 lashes (see background information). Ms. NasrinSotoudeh’s bank account was frozen by the Iranian authorities in May 2020, andthe efforts of her family members and lawyer to obtain an explanation have beenunsuccessful until now.

The Observatory expresses itsdeepest concern about the continuing arbitrary detention and harassment of Ms.Nasrin Sotoudeh, as well as the arbitrary arrest of her daughter, which appearto be only aimed at punishing Ms. Sotoudeh for her legitimate human rightsactivities.

The Observatory urges theIranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. NasrinSotoudeh and all the human rights defenders detained in the country. TheObservatory also calls on the Iranian authorities to guarantee the physicalintegrity and psychological well-being of all detained human rights defenders,taking into account the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Background information:

InAugust 2015, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was summoned for interrogation following therenewal of her lawyer’s licence, nine months after she held a sit-in to protestagainst a three-year suspension of her licence. The summons did not specify anycharges. However, she was unable to attend the interrogation due to a surgeryon her foot at the time. Her husband went to the court in her place andpresented medical documents regarding her condition and her inability torespond to the summons.

Shewas then given three weeks to go to the Islamic Revolution Court. However, whenshe did go, she was not allowed in, as a number of lawyers are barred fromentering the court’s building. Ms. Sotoudeh was also summoned to appear beforethe Islamic Revolution Court on September 4, 2016. However, she was not allowedinside the court on the pretext that the colour and design of her clothing werenot proper and on this occasion she was neither tried nor notified of anypending charges. However, it was established after her arrest in 2018 that thecourt had sentenced her in absentia to five years on the same day.

On June 13, 2018, security forces arrested Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh at herhome in Tehran and transferred her to the capital’s Evin prison. Upon herarrest, she was presented with an arrest warrant and was told that she wasbeing taken to serve a five-year prison sentence, which had been handed downagainst her in absentia. Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh was not shown the court’sruling related to the sentence and had not been informed of the conviction orthe sentence prior to her arrest. This is in flagrant contravention of domesticand international fair trial standards. Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh filed an appealagainst the sentence.

On March 9, 2019, Ms. NasrinSotoudeh received a copy of a court ruling issued after a one-day hearing held inabsentia on December 30, 2018, by Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolution Courtin Tehran. The court found her guilty and sentenced her to 33.5 years in jailand 148 lashes on the following seven charges: “gathering and collusion againstnational security” (Article 610 of the Islamic Penal Code), “spreadingpropaganda against the system” (Article 500), “effective membership of theillegal and anti-security splinter groups Defenders of Human Rights Centre,LEGAM[2]and National Council of Peace” (Article 498); “encouraging people to commitcorruption and prostitution, and providing the means for it” (Article 639),“appearing without the sharia-sanctioned hijab at the premises of themagistrate’s office” (Article 638); “disrupting public order and calm” (Article618) and “spreading falsehoods with intent to disturb the public opinion”(Article 698).

Judge Mohammad Moqisseh sentencedher to the maximum punishment in each and every case, i.e. a total of 29 years.In addition, he used the provisions of Article 134 of the same law to imposefour more years of imprisonment on the ground that Ms. Sotoudeh had committed“more than three crimes.” No lawyer represented her before the court, as sherefused to appoint a lawyer to protest against provisions restricting the rightof those accused of national security crimes to be represented by a lawyer oftheir choosing.

The Prosecutor argued in the indictment that Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh“removed her hijab during family visits in Evin prison” and “removed herheadscarf at the Prosecutor’s Office”; “was a prominent, active and organisedmember of Defenders of Human Rights Centre, LEGAAM and National Council ofPeace”; “received the amount of 50,000 Euros in disguise of Sakharov prize forher subversive actions”; “was involved in a call for a referendum”; “helped theestablishment of house churches”; “made false statements about detention ofwomen who took off their hijab, accusing police agents of abuse”; “encouragedthe people to commit corruption and prostitution"; and “was involved, alongside elementsaffiliated to the Gonabadi Order of Dervishes, in action outside the Evinprison.” Ms. Sotoudeh decided not to appeal the ruling to denounce the lack ofaccess to fair trial. The prosecutor sent the sentence to appeal and it wasupheld. She will have to serve the different portions of the sentenceconcurrently, i.e. 12 years in addition to the previous five-year prisonsentence.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Iran asking them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychologicalwell-being of Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and all other human rights defenders in Iran;

ii.Immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and all otherhuman rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Iran;

iii. Dropall charges against Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh and, meanwhile, ensure that alljudicial proceedings against her are carried out in full compliance with herright to a fair trial, in accordance with international law;

iv. Putan end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms.Nasrin Sotoudeh, her daughter, Ms. Mehraveh Khandan, and all the human rightsdefenders in Iran, and ensure they are able to carry out their activitieswithout hindrance;

v.Conform to all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human RightsDefenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particularits Articles 1, 6, 9, 11 and 12;

vi.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by Iran.


• Leader of the Islamic Republic, H.E. Ayatollah SayedAli Khamenei, Fax: + 98 21 441 2030, Email:; Twitter:@khamenei_ir
• President Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 644 54811;Email:; Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir(Persian).
• Head of the Judiciary, H.E. Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, Islamic Republic ofIran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671 / +98 21 3 311 6567, Email: / /
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Islamic Republic of Iran,Fax: +98-21-66743149;
• Secretary General, High Council for Human Rights, Mr. Mohammed JavadLarijani, Islamic Republic of Iran. Email:
• H.E. Mr. Javad Amin-Mansour, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of theIslamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 7330203, Email:
• H.E. Mr. Peiman Seadat, Ambassador, Embassy of Iran in Brussels,Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 39 15. Email:

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Iran in your respectivecountries.


Paris-Geneva, August 21, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 byFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:

· E-mail:

· Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] Ms. Sotoudeh’s hungerstrike was followed by at least five male political prisoners in Evin prison,one female political activist in Qarchak, and 72 political prisoners in GreaterTehran prison (Fashafuyeh) protesting against the violations of the standardminimum rules for the treatment of prisoners and of their right to health, inparticular in the context of spread of COVID-19. The 72 in Fashafuyeh startedtheir hunger strike on August 16 and ended it on August 17 after receivingpromises of improvement in their detention conditions. Some of the strikingprisoners explicitly declared their support for Ms. Sotoudeh.

[2] Campaign for “Step by Step Abolition ofthe Death Penalty”

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