LONDON: EU chiefs on Thursday called on Iran to release human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and condemned the regime for executing dissidents.
Concern has been mounting over the health of Sotoudeh, 57, who was initially jailed in 2018 and then thrown back behind bars this month after being allowed out for a few weeks in November.
Iran on Saturday also sparked global anger after executing dissident Ruhollah Sam. The activist was hanged over accusations of stoking protests in 2017. He had been living in Paris until he traveled to Iraq in 2019, where he was reportedly abducted by Iranian security services and taken to Iran.
In a strongly worded speech in the European Parliament, Helena Dalli, European commissioner for equality, called on Iran to end arbitrary detentions of EU-Iranian dual nationals and Iranian human rights defenders.
“Iran continues to hold a number of EU-Iranian dual nationals on doubtful grounds, following trials where the due process rights of the accused were not respected in full,” Dalli said.
“The European Union is closely following human rights developments in Iran and we are acutely aware of the deterioration that has occurred during the past year,” she added.
The EU had asked that Sotoudeh be released and reunited with her family, and Dalli restated the EU’s condemnation “in the strongest terms” of Sam’s execution.
The commissioner also drew attention to the case of Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian scientist sentenced to death on espionage charges.
Iran has ramped up the detention of dual nationals as it comes under increasing financial pressure from the US over its nuclear program and aggressive foreign policy.
Many observers accuse Iran of having a policy of taking hostages to use as bargaining chips in broader international disputes with the West.
Iran has also increasingly rounded up political opponents, particularly after a surge in domestic protests against the regime and the dire economic conditions brought about by a crumbling economy.
This week it emerged that another Swedish-Iranian dissident, Habib Chaab, was abducted from Turkey in October and taken to Iran. Tehran has accused him of being a leader of the separatist group the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz.