Rights groups criticize Iran detention of lawyers

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) [advocacy websites] decried [statement] on Monday Iran's persecutions of lawyers, suggesting it is a move to repress dissent. They called for the immediate release of Nasrin Sotoudeh [JURIST news archive], Mohammad Seyfzadeh, Maedeh Ghaderi and Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, whom they claim are being held arbitrarily in violation of international law:

The recent targeting of lawyers, notably those who defend political prisoners and prisoners facing the death penalty, is part of the Iranian government's ongoing crackdown on civil society following the post-June 2009 election unrest in the country. By targeting defence lawyers, the Iranian authorities are limiting access to competent legal representation, a basic right and important fair trial guarantee.
AI and the ICJ had varying requests for other lawyers in flux in Iran, but praised Iran for the release of defense lawyer Mohammad Oliyaeifard after one year of imprisonment.

All of the lawyers mentioned are reportedly involved with Iran's human rights movement. Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced [JURIST report] in January to 11 years in prison. 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. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] expressed particular concern [JURIST report] for Nasrin Sotoudeh in November. Mohammad Seyfzadeh was sentenced for "forming an association ... whose aim is to harm national security" and "being a member of an association whose aim is to harm national security" due to his involvement with the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) [advocacy website]. Maedeh Ghaderi was arrested after defending her husband, a member of the Green Movement during the 2009 presidential election protests [JURIST news archive], and has been held without trial since March. It is also unknown if her husband has received a new lawyer. Ghasem Sholeh Saadi, a former member of Parliament and potential presidential candidate, was arrested and sentenced for a year and a half for writing a letter critical of the government. After being released, he was arrested, reportedly for the same act of writing a critical letter before his imprisonment, and sentenced to another year in prison.

 

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