Press release

Iran: Nasrin Sotoudeh Should Be Released Immediately and Unconditionally

Iran's judiciary attempts to silence prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh through unfair arrests and trials.


In response to reports that a verdict may have been issued against prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh after a deeply flawed trial on December 30, 2018, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Everything about the way Iran’s judiciary has dealt with Nasrin Sotoudeh—from her rearrest in June 2018 to her grossly unfair trial in December 2018—demonstrates that the Iranian authorities are not seeking justice or upholding the rule of law. Rather, their goal is to silence the leading voice for justice in Iran,” said Dokhi Fassihian, director of Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House. “Sotoudeh’s peaceful defense of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Iranian women is not a national security crime. It is legitimate advocacy regarding rights that are guaranteed under international law, and that Iranians have been denied for far too long. In a twisted irony, Sotoudeh now faces the possibility of decades in prison at the hands of a judiciary she is better qualified to lead than its recently appointed chief, Ebrahim Raisi, who played a key role in the massacre of political prisoners in the 1980s. Sotoudeh should be cleared of all charges against her and unconditionally released. The United States government, European governments, and United Nations human rights officials should vigorously demand her release.”


Nasrin Sotoudeh is a leading Iranian human rights lawyer who has been persecuted by the Iranian judiciary for her peaceful defense of human rights on several occasions. Iranian security forces arrested Sotoudeh on June 13, 2018, after she advocated on behalf of women who protested the compulsory hijab. She has since been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Her trial on December 30, 2018, was conducted in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. Sotoudeh refused to appear in court, as she had been denied the legal representation of her choice. In a violation of basic due process, Iranian law requires that those charged with national security crimes, which political prisoners are often accused of committing, choose from a list of 20 government-approved lawyers. Sotoudeh previously represented many Iranian human rights defenders and political activists, which led to her imprisonment from 2010 to 2013.

Iran is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2018