30 Nov 2012

Jailed Iranian lawyer said to drop to 95 pounds on hunger strike

Imprisoned human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh has dwindled down to 95 pounds as her hunger strike continues into its 42nd day, her husband said in a phone interview. Sotoudeh, who is known for defending Iranian dissidents, was convicted last year of spreading propaganda against the government and acting against national security. She faces six years behind bars at a Tehran prison and will be banned from practicing law for a decade.


Human rights groups denounced the prison sentence as an attempt to quash her activism. Before her arrest, Sotoudeh had spoken out against the unannounced execution of one of her clients. While jailed at Evin Prison, Sotoudeh has protested the restrictions placed on her husband and 12-year-old daughter, who are barred from leaving the country. Her family has also agitated against not being allowed to hug their mother on visits. In October she went on hunger strike.

“In the past 42 days she has drunk only salt water and sugar water solutions,” her husband, Reza Khandan, said in a phone interview. She weighed roughly 95 pounds the last time her family saw her. “Now she may have lost even more weight.” Sotoudeh spent 17 days in solitary confinement in punishment for her hunger strike, according to her husband, but was back in the ward with other female prisoners as of last week.

Khandan also complained that prison officials are not allowing the entire family to visit weekly, as is usually permitted. The Dutch foundation Lawyers for Lawyers sent a petition Monday to the Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands, alarmed about her deteriorating health. “Human rights lawyers do not belong in prison in the first place, and under all circumstances they are entitled to decent and equal treatment like any other prisoner,” said the group's president, Phon van den Biesen.

LA Times