Previously Imprisoned Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh Refuses to Appear in Court

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“I know I will not be treated fairly by the judiciary.”

A prominent Iranian lawyer who was previously imprisoned for her peaceful defense of human rights has refused to comply with a summons by the Revolutionary Court in Evin Prison because “I know I will not be fairly treated,” she told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“I know the court will not follow legal procedures and I will be tried under unfair circumstances,” Nasrin Sotouteh told CHRI on November 20, 2017. “Therefore I will not appear in court; I know I have not broken any law.”

The summons, issued on November 16, 2017, warned she would be arrested if she did not comply with the order within three to five days.

“I have no idea why I have been summoned,” Sotoudeh told CHRI. “I represented Parastou Forouhar after her family home was burglarized, and I have defended children who have been sexually abused. Perhaps these cases have touched raw nerves,”

Forouhar is due to appear at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran on November 25, 2017, to face the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the sacred,” brought by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.

“I have also used my [right of] freedom of expression to speak about my cases, within the boundaries of the law, on Facebook,” Sotouhdeh added. “But it really doesn’t matter what I am accused of. I know I will not be treated fairly by the judiciary.”

In 2010, Sotoudeh was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the charges of “acting against national security,” “collusion and propaganda against the regime,” and “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center.”

An appeals court later reduced her sentence to six years in prison and she was granted early release in September 2013 after serving three years behind bars.

In August 2014, the Lawyers’ Court at the Tehran Bar Association overturned the ban on Sotoudeh’s legal practice and ruled that she could continue to work as a licensed lawyer in Iran.

Asked by CHRI about her practice in April 2016, Sotoudeh replied: “I am only allowed to take on general civil cases now. I cannot defend suspects in political and security cases.”

“Individuals charged with security offenses have wanted me to defend them, but the judicial authorities would not allow it,” she said. “For instance, a while ago [prominent reformist journalist] Issa Saharkhiz told the judge that I was his lawyer, but the judge refused.”

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