September 18, 2013 – New York – AJC welcomed the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh from an Iranian prison today. A courageous women’s rights advocate and lawyer, Sotoudeh received the prestigious European Parliament 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Eleven other prisoners of conscience also reportedly have been released in advance of Iranian President Rouhani’s address to the UN General Assembly on September 24.
AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) has called on President Rouhani to firmly implement extensive measures to end Iran’s assault on the freedoms of expression, assembly, association, religion and the equal rights of women, and to stop the widespread use of torture, arbitrary arrests, detentions and unfair trials, including extensive due process violations.
“President Rouhani should fulfill his campaign pledge to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians,” said E. Robert Goodkind, Chair of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute. “A good place to start is the immediate unconditional release of all remaining prisoners of conscience, including leaders of the Baha’i faith, Iranian-American Pastor Saeed Abedini, and the release from house arrest of 2009 presidential candidates Mousavi and Karroubi.”
“We are delighted to see Nasrin Sotoudeh free and call upon the Iranian government to ensure that her release is permanent, without conditions,” said Goodkind. During her three years of imprisonment, Sotoudeh was granted leave three times, but then quickly returned to the Evin prison.
“The Iranian government should fully restore her law license and allow her to travel within and outside Iran, so she can resume her staunch advocacy for an end to discrimination against women and defense of human rights advocates in Iran,” Goodkind added.
Sotoudeh was unjustly imprisoned in Iran’s notorious Evin prison in 2010. She held several hunger strikes to protest her unfair detention as well as harassment of her family members and lawyer. Her health suffered as a result of the hunger strikes, denials of adequate medical care, and time in solitary confinement. AJC and its Jacob Blaustein Institute have been petitioning for the release of Sotoudeh andallother Iranian prisoners of conscience.
JBI and AJC’s Westchester Regional Office also contributed to the successful international campaign for Sotoudeh to receive the Sakharov Prize.