Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh to face additional 10 years in jail

In this file photo taken on September 18, 2013 Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh smiles at her home in Tehran after being freed following three years in prison. (AFP)
Updated 12 March 2019

Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh to face additional 10 years in jail

TEHRAN: Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to an extra 10 years in jail on top of the five-year term she is already serving, her husband said Tuesday.
Sotoudeh is an award-winning rights activist who was arrested last June and told she had been found guilty in absentia of espionage charges and sentenced to five years.
The new 10-year sentence was the longest of seven different verdicts totalling 33 years bundled together in a case and communicated to Sotoudeh in prison, according to her husband Reza Khandan.
“But only the longest sentence will be served, which is ‘encouraging corruption and debauchery and providing the means’,” he told AFP by telephone.
He said Sotoudeh had also been sentenced to a total of 148 lashes for appearing in court without the hijab Islamic head covering and for another offense.
She had been found guilty of “colluding against the system, propaganda against the system... disrupting public order” and several other counts.
On Monday, a judge at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court said she had been sentenced in her latest conviction to five years for colluding against the system and two years for insulting Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But Khandan said that to the best of his knowledge his wife had not been charged with insulting the leader.
The United Nations’ top expert on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said the reported conviction was “a crystal-clear illustration of an increasingly severe state response.”
“There is an increasing concern that the civil space for human rights lawyers and defenders is being reduced,” he told journalists in Geneva.
Amnesty International condemned the latest case against Sotoudeh as an “outrageous injustice” and called for her immediate and unconditional release.
“Nasrin Sotoudeh has dedicated her life to defending women’s rights and speaking out against the death penalty — it is utterly outrageous that Iran’s authorities are punishing her for her human rights work,” it said.
Before her arrest, Sotoudeh, 55, had taken on the cases of several women arrested for appearing in public without headscarves in protest at the mandatory dress code in force in Iran.
Sotoudeh won the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases, including those of convicts on death row for offenses committed as minors.
She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Pentagon chief urges Iraq to stop attacks on bases housing US forces

Updated 4 min 29 sec ago

Pentagon chief urges Iraq to stop attacks on bases housing US forces

  • A US military official warned last week that attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting US forces in Iraq were pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation
  • Tension between the United States and Iran has risen as a result of US sanctions that are hitting Tehran hard

BAGHDAD: US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Monday urged Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to take steps to prevent bases housing US troops from being shelled, a statement from the premier’s office said.

Esper’s call came after a senior US military official warned last week that attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting US forces in Iraq were pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation.

Rocket strikes targeting Iraqi bases where members of the US-led coalition are also stationed have increased in past weeks with no claim of responsibility from any party.

However, the US military official said intelligence and forensic analyzes of the rockets and launchers pointed to Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim militia groups.

Esper “expressed his concerns over the shelling of some installations and the necessity to take procedures to stop it,” a statement from Abdul Mahdi’s office quoted the Pentagon chief as saying during a phone call.

Abdul Mahdi warned Esper that unilateral action could have negative consequences that will be difficult to control and might jeopardize Iraq’s sovereignty.

Abdul Mahdi resigned last month under pressure from mass anti-government protests. He is carrying out his duties in a caretaker capacity.

Tension between the United States and Iran has risen as a result of US sanctions that are hitting Tehran hard. The two sides have also traded blame over attacks on oil installations, militia arms depots and bases hosting US forces.