1st June 2011
The first court session for disbarring prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was held at the Iranian Bar Association on 29 May, though she was not allowed to review the case against her prior to the trial. Based on this reason, the court agreed to Sotoudeh’s request to postpone the session. A handcuffed Sotoudeh was transferred from the political prisoners’ ward in Evin Prison to the Iranian Bar Association, escorted by two soldiers and a female police officer. In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Reza Khandan, Sotoudeh’s husband, objected to her transfer to the Bar Association in handcuffs. “I did not expect such a treatment at all. Ms. Sotoudeh was transferred from Ward 209, a security ward, to the Revolutionary Court six times before, but during none of those times was she handcuffed. Transferring prisoners in handcuffs and foot cuffs is a normal occurrence. But today, when Nasrin was coming to the Bar Association, which is considered her home, it is the home of all lawyers, and lawyers are supposed to feel safe in their homes, she was handcuffed,” he told the Campaign.
“The meeting was held at 11:00 inside a room at the Bar Association. But because Ms. Sotoudeh and her lawyer, Mr. Soltani, were not prepared to defend, because they had not had not been able to read the case file and the indictment, they asked for a rescheduling of the court session. Ms. Sotoudeh said at this court that ‘I don’t even know whether the Prosecutor has asked for the suspension or revocation of my lawyer’s permit, so I don’t know how to defend myself.’ The meeting did not last more than ten minutes,” said Khandan.
Criticizing Sotoudeh’s transfer, Khandan said: “She was well, but she was very upset about being transferred in handcuffs. I think we were more upset than she was, because she is in prison and it must be normal for her to see handcuffs. They brought her to court an hour earlier. During this hour, she was sitting inside one of the Bar Association rooms. They didn’t even remove the handcuffs for one minute to drink a glass of water or write something. As a lawyer, she did not deserve this treatment. It was also disrespectful of the Bar Association to bring one of its lawyers there in handcuffs.”
Judicial authorities asked for the suspension of Sotoudeh’s lawyer’s permit, but the Bar Association has taken over the file by assuming responsibility for it. Sotoudeh has been in prison since September 2010 on charges of “acting against national security,” “collusion and propagating against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” She was sentenced to 11 years in prison, a 20 year ban on her legal practice, and a 20 year ban on foreign travel.