Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh moved to jail out of Tehran

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was transferred to a detention center for women outside Iran's capital Tehran instead of being hospitalized, her husband said on October 21, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 22 October 2020

Iran rights lawyer Sotoudeh moved to jail out of Tehran

  • The UN has called on Iran to free Sotoudeh, a winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize

TEHRAN: Jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been moved to a women’s detention center outside the capital Tehran instead of receiving the hospital treatment she needs, her husband said on Wednesday.

The UN has called on Iran to free Sotoudeh, a winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize, and other political prisoners excluded from a push to empty jails amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nasrin called me yesterday (Tuesday) to tell me she’s been transferred straight (from Tehran’s Evin jail) to the one in Qarchak,” more than 30 km away, her husband Reza Khandan told AFP.

“We had been expecting her to be sent to hospital for an angiogram” as decided by “the medical commission at Evin prison,” he said.

Khandan has said that health issues prompted Sotoudeh, 57, to end a hunger strike lasting more than 45 days to push for the release of political prisoners during the pandemic.

The lawyer was sentenced in 2019 to serve 12 years in jail for defending women arrested for protesting compulsory headscarf laws in the Islamic republic.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Oct. 6 expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation of rights activists, lawyers and political prisoners held in Iran as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“People detained solely for their political views or other forms of activism in support of human rights should not be imprisoned at all, and such prisoners, should certainly not be treated more harshly or placed at greater risk,” she said.

“I am very concerned that Nasrin Sotoudeh’s life is at risk,” Bachelet said.

A system of temporary releases to reduce the populations in severely overcrowded prisons, introduced by Iran in February to rein in transmission of Covid-19, has benefited some 120,000 inmates, although a number have since been required to return, her office said.

But it said that prisoners sentenced to more than five years for “national security” offenses were excluded.

The pandemic has cost more 31,000 lives in Iran out of 545,000 declared cases, according to official figures released on Wednesday.


German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

Updated 24 November 2020

German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

  • Germany insists it acted correctly in boarding a Turkish ship to enforce arms embargo of Libya
  • Turkey summoned European diplomats to complain at the operation

BERLIN: Germany’s defense minister on Tuesday rejected Turkey’s complaints over the search of a Turkish freighter in the Mediterranean Sea by a German frigate participating in a European mission, insisting that German sailors acted correctly.
Sunday’s incident prompted Turkey to summon diplomats representing the European Union, Germany and Italy and assert that the Libya-bound freighter Rosaline-A was subjected to an “illegal” search by personnel from the German frigate Hamburg. The German ship is part of the European Union’s Irini naval mission, which is enforcing an arms embargo against Libya.
German officials say that the order to board the ship came from Irini’s headquarters in Rome and that Turkey protested while the team was on board. The search was then ended.
Turkey says the search was “unauthorized and conducted by force.”
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed the German crew’s actions.
“It is important to me to make really clear that the Bundeswehr soldiers behaved completely correctly,” she said during an appearance in Berlin. “They did what is asked of them in the framework of the European Irini mandate.”
“That there is this debate with the Turkish side points to one of the fundamental problems of this European mission,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added, without elaborating. “But it is very important to me to say clearly here that there are no grounds for these accusations that are now being made against the soldiers.”
This was the second incident between Turkey and naval forces from a NATO ally enforcing an arms blockade against Libya.
In June, NATO launched an investigation over an incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, after France said one of its frigates was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.
Turkey supports a UN-backed government in Tripoli against rival forces based in the country’s east. It has complained that the EU naval operation focuses its efforts too much on the Tripoli administration and turns a blind eye to weapons sent to the eastern-based forces.
In Ankara, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Irini was “flawed from the onset.”
“It is not based on firm international legal foundations,” Akar said. He renewed Turkey’s criticism of the German ship’s actions.
“The incident was against international laws and practices. It was wrong,” he said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that “Turkey is still an important partner for us in NATO.” Turkey being outside the military alliance would make the situation even more difficult, she argued, and Turkish soldiers are “absolutely reliable partners” in NATO missions.
But she conceded that Turkey poses “a big challenge” because of how its domestic politics have developed and because it has its “own agenda, which is difficult to reconcile with European questions in particular.”