Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry is Keeping Prominent Rights Lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani in Prison, Says Daughter

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Abdolfattah Soltani’s daughter, Maede Soltani.

Abdolfattah Soltani, who spent most of his legal career defending political prisoners before becoming one himself, continues to be denied parole and adequate medical treatment as he enters his seventh year in prison, his daughter told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“By law, my father should have been freed three years ago after serving a third of his 10-year prison sentence,” said Maede Soltani on September 10, 2017.

“However, the judiciary has prevented this without any clear reason,” said Maede Soltani, who lives in Germany. “They don’t want him to go free only because he insists on his rights and innocence. The judiciary isn’t impartial or independent. The real decision-maker is the Intelligence Ministry.”

The 63-year-old prominent human rights lawyer has been behind bars since 2011, serving a 13-year prison sentence for “being awarded the [2009] Nuremberg International Human Rights Award,” “interviewing with media about his clients’ cases,” and “co-founding the Defenders of Human Rights Center.”

According to Maede Soltani, her grandmother, Masoumeh Dehghan, was explicitly told by a judicial official that the Intelligence Ministry, as the arresting authority, opposes releasing the attorney despite his eligibility for parole and the fact he’s in poor health.

She added that officials are upset that prominent activists visited Soltani when he was granted medical furlough (temporary leave) in the past.

“It’s a violation of the law and unreasonable to ask why political opposition figures or critics [of the government] came to see him while he was on leave,” she said. “We can’t close the door to our home to visiting friends and colleagues.”

Article 58 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code allows prisoners to be conditionally released after serving a third of their sentence.

“During his six years in prison, my father has been suffering from problems in his digestive tract, blood pressure fluctuations, and anemia, neither of which existed before he was incarcerated,” Maede Soltani told CHRI.

“Even the doctors have said that his health issues are due to his imprisonment and he needs medical care and rest,” she added. “But the judicial officials give all sorts of excuses for opposing medical leave.”

Maede Soltani criticized President Hassan Rouhani for not preventing the Intelligence Ministry, which operates under him, from abusing citizens’ rights.

“Mr. Rouhani has said some slogans in defense of citizens’ rights, but that has made no difference in the Intelligence Ministry’s decisions or else my father, who happens to be a defender of citizens’ rights and freedoms, would not be sitting in prison,” she said. “I believe the Intelligence Ministry is still being run by the same gang who took away my father’s freedom.”

Signed by Rouhani in December 2016, six months before he ran for re-election, the Charter on Citizens’ Rights defends civil rights over and above the Constitution, but the Rouhani government implemented it without a path to implementation.

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