Iran: UN experts "shocked" at prison sentence for lawyer

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There's been mixed signals over the actual length of Sotoudeh's sentence, reports newspaper Aftenposten, with one judge saying she was "only" sentenced to two years in prison for offending Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and five years for "meetings and conspiracy against the state".

The Iranian authorities subsequently laid seven further charges against her, including allegations related to national security, public order and appearing before the judiciary without a hijab.

Halvorsen said Norway's foreign ministry would follow up the concrete case against Sotoudeh, in close cooperation with the European Union and other countries.

In an open letter to the Iranian people, and sent by one of the authors to VOA Persia for publication, the group of 16 jurists emphasizes that the sentence violates the commitments enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic on the subject of human rights and due process. "I only know that the biggest sentence was 12 years", he said, for the charge of encouraging corruption and prostitution.

According to Amnesty International, Iran has tightened its grip on outspoken human rights activists, including political dissidents, journalists, online media workers, students, filmmakers, musicians and writers, and minority rights and environmental activists. She was also sentenced to 148 lashes, he said.

Trettebergstuen, who serves as Labour's spokesperson on equality issues, thinks Sotoudeh's efforts are having an effect "because it's clearly scaring the Iranian regime so much that they want to whip her into silence".

"This verdict shows that making statements in our country comes with such a high price that an attorney can be sentenced to 44 years for it", he told the center.

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She has reportedly been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 lashes after what Amnesty International called two "grossly unfair" trials.

Ms. Sotoudeh's situation is also emblematic of an increase in the harassment, arrest and detention of human rights lawyers in Iran in recent months.

"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".

Amnesty demanded that Nasrin Sotoudeh must be released immediately and unconditionally and the sentence should be quashed without delay.

On 11 March 2019, human rights defender Reza Khandan posted on his Facebook page that, "Nasrin's sentence in relation to her last cases has been informed to her in prison".

"Human rights should be defended, not prosecuted", he added.

Human Rights Watch said the sentence was "draconian", describing it as "an appalling travesty of justice".

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