Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced Sunday to 11 years in prison. Sotoudeh was found guilty [Guardian report] of "acting against national security" and "making propaganda against the system" for which she will serve five and one years, respectively. The remaining five years of her sentence result from allegations that she was a member of the Human Rights Defenders Center [advocacy website], an organization originally founded by Shirin Ebadi [JURIST news archive] and four other Iranian lawyers, many of whom have also been detained or otherwise punished for their work. In addition to her prison term, Sotoudeh's punishment also requires that she refrain from leaving the country or practicing law for the next 20 years. Sotoudeh was detained [JURIST report] in September and spent much of that time in solitary confinement. She is most widely known for representing political activists following the controversial 2009 presidential election [JURIST news archive].
Sotoudeh has worked on several high-profile cases. She was the lawyer for Arash Rahmanipour, who was arrested for his role in the post-election protests on charges of mohareb, or being an enemy of God. Rahmanipour was executed [JURIST report] in January 2010. Sotoudeh also represented Isa Saharkhiz [Iran Press profile], a well-known press activist who was sentenced [JURIST report] to four years in prison in 2006 for publishing articles against the constitution and offending the state media. Iran continues to be scrutinized internationally for human rights violations. In March, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] criticized the state of human rights in Iran while presenting her annual report. Pillay condemned[JURIST report] Iran for the "arbitrary arrest" of, and "harsh sentences, including capital punishment" given to, individuals involved in protests following the presidential elections.