Iran releases prize-winning rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Iran releases prize-winning rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh


She was arrested at the funeral on Oct. 29 of Armita, 17, who was fatally beaten by morality police

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TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian authorities on Wednesday released the prize-winning rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh after she spent more than two weeks in prison, her husband said.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, 60, was arrested at the funeral on October 29 in Tehran of Armita Garawand, 17, who activists say was fatally beaten by the Tehran morality police.

Sotoudeh, who has spent much of the past decade in and out of prison serving a myriad of sentences in cases linked to her activism, was after her arrest moved to Qarchak women's prison outside Tehran and subsequently to Evin prison in the capital.

"Nasrin was released from prison a few hours ago after posting bail," her husband Reza Khandan wrote on X, formerly twitter, posting a picture with his wife who was defiantly not wearing the headscarf obligatory for women in the Islamic republic.

Sotoudeh, who began a hunger strike after her arrest, has for years campaigned on some of the most sensitive issues in Iran. She won prizes including the 2012 Sakharov Prize bestowed by the European Parliament and the 2020 Right Livelihood award.

She has also won prominence thanks to appearances in film. She made a memorable cameo appearance as a passenger in Jafar Panahi’s 2015 movie "Taxi Tehran", and was the subject of a warmly received 2020 documentary, "Nasrin".

The case of Garawand had strong echoes of the case of Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody in September 2022 after being detained for failing to obey the dress code, with authorities wanting to prevent any repeat of the mass protests that followed her death.

In both cases, Iranian authorities have insisted prior medical conditions caused their deaths, not the intervention of police.

Sotoudeh's fellow rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize but remains in jail in Iran. Her family accuses prison authorities of putting her life at risk by limiting her access to medical treatment because of her refusal to wear the headscarf.

The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said it was "pleased" about Sotoudeh's release, but warned there are numerous individuals still detained "whose plight should not be forgotten".

They include women such as Mohammadi and journalists Niloufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, who helped to expose the Amini case with their reporting.