[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Iran Tuesday to stop detaining and harassing human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh [JURIST news archive]. HRW also urged Iranian officials to end interference in the internal affairs of Iran’s bar association. HRW stressed that the government and the bar association need to ensure that no lawyer is disciplined for defending clients, and disciplinary hearings should be fair and independent. “The government’s well-documented harassment of Nasrin Sotoudeh, including her recent detention and previous unlawful conviction and imprisonment, suggests they are heavily invested in preventing her from doing her job as a lawyer,” said deputy Middle East director at HRW Eric Goldstein.
Sotoudeh has been a prominent figure worldwide since her imprisonment in 2011. Earlier this month Sotoudeh was banned from practicing law [JURIST report] for three years. In April she was summoned [JURIST report] by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry in response to a video posted online showing her giving a speech that voices support for what she calls “prisoners of conscience” in Iran. The video criticized Iran as “a big prison” and denounced the treatment of Mehdi Karoubi and Mirhossein Mousavi, both reformist leaders who have been held under house arrest since 2011. In September of last year she was permanently released [JURIST report] after spending over two years in prison. Other prisoners serving prison terms related to the 2009 mass protests were also released. In December 2012 she ended a 49-day hunger strike [JURIST report] in protest of her prison conditions and a travel ban imposed on her family. After judicial authorities agreed to lift the travel ban on Sotoudeh’s daughter, Sotoudeh ended her strike.