Urgent Interventions

Iran: Arbitrary arrest of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani / Threats and smear campaign against Mrs. Shirin Ebadi


IRN 002 / 0705 / OBS 055.1

Arbitrary arrest / Threats /
Smear campaign / Harassment

August 3, 2005

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (Ligue iranienne de défense des droits de l’Homme - LDDHI) that Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, lawyer at the Bar of Tehran, was arrested on July 30, 2005.

According to the information received, on July 30, 2005, Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested while he was taking part in a sit-in at the Bar of Tehran in order to protest against his warrant of arrest, which Mr. Soltani considered as “illegal with respect to the Iranian Penal Code”, as well as against the search and seizure of his personal and professional belongings on order of Mr. Saïd Mortazavi, Tehran Prosecutor, on July 27, 2005 (See background information).

Mr. Soltani has been accused of “espionage”, without any other precisions. He is currently detained at the prison of Evin, in Tehran.

Moreover, on the same day, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and Secretary General of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, received a message twice on her answering machine, stating that “We have Soltani, you are next”. For one week, Mrs. Ebadi has been subjected to a campaign of defamation and intimidation in the die-hard press, in particular the daily newspaper Keyhan. She is accused, among other things, of “inciting Mr. Akbar Ganji [a prominent journalist and human rights defender who has been imprisoned for more than five years in Evin prison, and who started a new hunger strike on June 16, 2005 – See Observatory Urgent Appeal IRN 001/0004/OBS 030.7] to be on hunger strike”. Finally, along with the other lawyers who are members of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, she is subjected to acts of harassment from ultra conservatives, including Mr. Saïd Mortazavi.

The Observatory is deeply concerned about Mr. Soltani’s arbitrary arrest and the subsequent threats against Mrs. Ebadi, and considers that these events blatantly violate the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular article 9.3(a), which provides that everyone has the right “to complain about the policies and actions of individual officials and governmental bodies with regard to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by petition or other appropriate means, to competent domestic judicial, administrative or legislative authorities or any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, which should render their decision on the complaint without undue delay”, and article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

Background information:

On July 27, 2005, Mr. Saïd Mortazavi, Tehran Prosecutor, requested the Revolution’s Court of Tehran to issue a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Soltani along with a search warrant for his home. As he was absent, the warrants were delivered to his wife and his house was searched. All his documents, files, video-tapes, books, pictures etc. were seized and transferred to the Revolutionary Public Prosecutor’s Office.

These events took place while Ms. Zahra Kazemi’s case, an Iranian-Canadian photographer who died in July 2003 from torture and ill-treatment during her detention in Iranian custody, was brought before Tehran Court of Appeal to establish the circumstances of her death and the responsible parties. On July 25, 2005, during a hearing in camera of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Soltani, lawyer of Ms. Zahra Kazemi’s family, put into question the independence and fairness of the trial, pointing out that the main officials allegedly involved in the case had not been indicted by the court, including Mr. Saïd Mortazavi.

Moreover, the Observatory recalls that in July 2002, Mr. Soltani had already been convicted for having underlined in his defence pleadings the fact that his clients had been subjected to ill-treatment during their interrogation. He was sentenced to four months in jail by the Court of Tehran and released in June 2003 (See Observatory Annual Report 2003).

Actions requested:

Please write to the Iranian authorities and ask them to:
i. Guarantee under all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi and all human rights defenders in Iran;

ii. Ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani;

iii. Conduct a fair, impartial and independent trial about Zahra Kazemi’s death, in order to identify the perpetrators, bring them to justice and pronounce sentences proportional to the gravity of their crimes;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and the above-mentioned articles 9.3(a) and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.


  • Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 649 5880 / 21 774 2228 (ask fax to be forwarded to Ayatollah Khamenei), Email: (on the subject line write: For the attention of the office of His Excellency, Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei, Qom)

  • President, His Excellency Hojjatoleslam val Moslemin Sayed Mohammad Khatami, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 649 588, Email:

  • Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671, Email:

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Kamal Kharrazi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 390 1999 (number may be unreliable; please mark “care of the Human Rights Department, Foreign Ministry”), Email:

  • Ambassador Mohammad Reza Alborzi, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:

Paris - Geneva, August 3, 2005

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH: 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 01 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 4122 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts