Interview with Reza Khandan, Sotoodeh’s Husband
Further Pressures on Nasrin Sotoodeh, Imprisoned Human Rights Lawyer and Women’s Rights Activist
Tuesday 22 February 2011
Change for Equality: In the third and latest round of court hearings for Nasrin Sotoodeh, court officials prevented her family from entering the court room. The court hearing on February 16, was held in relation to charges pending against Nasrin Sotoodeh for lack of observance of proper hejab in a personal video. Despite the fact that this was an open court session, court officials prevented her family from entering the court room.
Reza Khandan, Sotoodeh’s husband explained to the site of Change for Equality, that: “on February 17, I took my daughter out of school, so that she could visit her mother in prison. We waited in the waiting room at the prison for four hours, but unfortunately we were not allowed to visit Nasrin. It is not clear to us why we were prevented from visiting with her on a day which is visitors day at Evin prison. On the previous day, Nasrin’s call home was abruptly cut off when she was speaking to our daughter, Mehraveh.”
Khandan continued by adding that: “it is unfortunate that the family members are punished along with those who are accused. During these months since Nasrin’s arrest nearly 6 months ago, our 3 year old son has only been allowed to visit his mother on 3 occasions totaling 30 minutes. Each time these visits take place under very difficult and extraordinary circumstances. All these pressures and restrictions are placed on us despite the fact that Nasrin at present is only accused of a crime. Her sentence has not yet been finalized and if she were to be acquitted of the charges against her, who will take responsibility for the rights violated thus far and who has to pay the price of such violation?”
Reza Khandan explained further that: “despite the end of her interrogations and the end of investigations into her case, Nasrin remains in solitary confinement in Section 209 of Evin prison, managed by the Ministry of Intelligence. Prison officials have refused to transfer Nasrin to the public ward of the prison as required under these circumstances. She has also been under great pressure to take part in a video confession. She is also is forbidden from even having pen and paper with which she could begin to draft her defense for court hearings.”
In a recent interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Reza Khandan explained that Evin officials have asked that Nasrin’s license to practice law be suspended. You can read the interview on the site of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iranand also pasted below:
New Round of Pressure On Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh
Reza Khandan, husband of imprisoned Iranian lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, today told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran of disturbing developments in the human rights lawyer’s case. “Unfortunately, when we went to visit Ms. Sotoudeh in prison last week, even though we were never told that she had been barred from having visitors, she did not come [to the visitation hall] until the last minute, and they never told us the reason for it. Her telephone contact has also been suspended. She contacted home every Monday for a month, but now her telephone calls are suspended, too, and we have no information about her conditions,” Khandan told the Campaign.
“The Evin Prison Court has recently asked for a suspension of her license to practice law. According to the lower court’s ruling, Ms. Sotoudeh has been sentenced to 20 years’ ban on legal profession. If her sentence is upheld in the appeals court, this sentence will commence after she has completed her eleven years in prison. But with the new request by the Evin Prison Court, if her law practice license is revoked, this means that she will not be able to practice law henceforth,” said Reza Khandan about the new development in Sotoudeh’s case.
“Every prisoner is entitled to furlough. If, during her prison term, she is permitted furlough leave, she may want to represent a case herself or through cooperation with her colleagues. But if her legal practice license is suspended, she will no longer be allowed to do this. Of course, it is not clear whether under these circumstances, she would be allowed furlough during her sentence; even so, she could have used the opportunity,” said Sotoudeh’s husband.
Reza Khandan told the Campaign that Sotoudeh’s second trial on charges of “poor Islamic hejab” in a private video was held in a court session in complete silence, without any defense by Sotoudeh. “Last week, the second and last court session for Ms. Sotoudeh’s charge of “poor Islamic hejab” in a private video was held. They didn’t allow us, as her family, to attend, even though the court session was public. Only one of her lawyers, Ms. Parakand attended the session.
According to her, Ms. Sotoudeh objected to the way the court session was held again, and did not offer any defense for herself during the session. The court continued its session, regardless, and completed it. Now we await the verdict,” Khandan told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“After five months and 20 days in prison, she continues to remain inside the security ward and under special circumstances. This is despite the fact that the court reviewing her original charges has been held, and a verdict has been issued. From a legal point of view, there is no reason for her to remain inside the security ward and under special circumstances. Despite her repeated requests, during this time she has been deprived of access to pen and paper. She told the Judge in the last session, as well the recent one, that she needs pen and paper to prepare her defense, so that she can at least write down her thoughts on paper, so that she is able to defend herself in court. But they paid no attention to this,” said Sotoudeh’s husband about the reasons Sotoudeh refuses to defend herself in court.
“The other thing that has caused her to repeatedly object is that her family and other individuals are not allowed to attend her court sessions, despite her trial being public. Anyone can attend these sessions, but even during her last court session, her first-degree family members were prevented from attending,” Reza Khandan told the Campaign about the other reason the prominent lawyer refused to defend herself in court.
“Her visits with her lawyers only take place during her court sessions. Naturally, she only has a few minutes in court to talk to her lawyers, and as soon as they see each other, the session starts. She was only allowed one visit with her lawyers in prison 3.5 months ago,” said Khandan about Sotoudeh’s access to legal counsel.
In regards to the reason for this week’s banned visitation, Sotoudeh’s husband said: “I don’t know the reason for it. This happened once before where she didn’t show up while we were waiting for her, and later she said it was because they wanted to bring her out blindfolded; she objected and did not come. Apparently, there is a long distance between the place they keep the prisoners and the visiting hall. They bring the prisoners blindfolded in a vehicle, which Mrs. Sotoudeh opposed, since according to the law, prisoners should not be blindfolded. She did not come to visit on that day. Now, I don’t know if it is for a similar reason or it is because of some new pressures she is under. I must see her to learn the reason.”
“For now I consider these instances as ordinary events, but if they continue, it would appear to be a new period of pressure on the family. When phone calls and visitation are not permitted, in reality the punishment is double-sided. Both the family and the prisoner are punished–a family that has no charge against it, which must have visitation rights, and the prisoner, who should not suffer these limitations. She is condemned to prison, but not condemned to no contact with her family, and loss of telephone and visitation rights.”