Lawyer sentenced to decades in prison and 148 lashes, husband writes on Facebook
Reuters in Geneva
Sotoudeh was charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images
Nasrin Sotoudeh, an internationally renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran, has been handed a new sentence that her husband said was 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.
Sotoudeh, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory headscarf, was arrested in June and charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader, her lawyer said.
She was jailed in 2010 for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security – charges she denied – and was released after serving half of her six-year term. The European parliament awarded her the Sakharov human rights prize.
Mohammad Moqiseh, a judge at a revolutionary court in Tehran, said on Monday that Sotoudeh had been sentenced to five years for assembling against national security and two years for insulting the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, wrote on Facebook that the sentence was decades in jail and 148 lashes, unusually harsh even for Iran, which cracks down hard on dissent and regularly imposes death sentences for some crimes.
The news comes days after Iran appointed a hardline new head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, who is a protege of Ali Khamenei. The appointment is seen as weakening the political influence of the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate.
Iran, often accused of human rights abuses, said it had allowed the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, Kate Gilmore, to visit last week at the head of a “technical mission”.
The visit, confirmed by a UN official, appeared to be the first in many years by UN human rights investigators, who have been denied access by the government.
The UN investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, raised Sotoudeh’s case at the UN human rights council in Geneva on Monday, saying that last week that she “was reportedly convicted of charges relating to her work and could face a lengthy prison sentence”.
He added: “Worrying patterns of intimidation, arrest, prosecution and ill-treatment of human rights defenders, lawyers and labour rights activists signal an increasingly severe state response.”