While lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh was being awarded by the PEN American Center, her husband, Reza Khandan, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Sotoudeh withdrew her appeal request after being told by interrogators that her 11-prison sentenced will be upheld by the Appeals Court.
“In my last visit with Ms. Sotoudeh, last Thursday, she told me that she wrote a letter to the Head of the Revolutionary Court on 9 April, and completely withdrew her objection to her lower court’s decision, and neither herself nor her lawyers will pursue her objection any further. So, if Ms. Sotoudeh’s withdrawal is accepted, her 11-year sentence from the lower court will be her final sentence,” Khandan told the Campaign.
“She was told, ‘we will make sure that your Appeals Court will hold the same 11-year sentence for you.’ Because her interrogators had once before told her that they would not let her get less than 10 years in prison, and the lower court trial showed that they have enough power to make the judge vote a certain way and follow through with their promise, Ms. Sotoudeh said that our efforts are futile and we won’t pursue it anymore,” said Khandan about the reasons for Sotoudeh withdrawing her request.
“After all this time, the appeals court branch for my wife’s main charge has not been determined, and despite the repeated visits to the Revolutionary Court by one of my wife’s lawyers, Ms. Parakand, the appeals court branch for her case has not been announced. Also, the lower court ruling for my wife’s other charge of ‘poor Islamic hejab’ has not been determined after all these months,” Khandan told the Campaign.
“The worst part of our visits is that the kids are sent in to visit their mother accompanied by prison guards. Despite our requests, they have never allowed us to take the kids to where their mother is and return them. Eight months after my wife’s arrest, I have not yet been able to have an in-person visit with her. Our kid’s visits with her are short and just for a few minutes,” Khandan said about visitations with his wife.
“Her psychological state is good. She has never complained about her physical state either, except the time she insisted that she has developed vision problems and requested to be examined by a doctor, which has not been granted till now,” Khandan said about Nasrin Sotoudeh’s physical and psychological condition.
“She remains in Ward 209. Of course she has a cellmate most of the time. Her cellmate was separated from her during the Nowruz [Iranian New Year] holidays, and she went on a hunger strike; the next day they brought in another cellmate. Most of her cellmates have had non-political charges, but the woman who is her cellmate right now has political charges,” he added.
Nasrin Sotoudeh was summoned to Evin Prison Court on 4 September 2010 and was arrested and imprisoned there. In January 2010, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison, with a 20 year ban on being professionally active and 20 a year travel ban on charges of “acting against national security,” “colluding and propagating against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” Eight months after her arrest, she remains at Evin Prison without a single day of furlough. She has two young children.