My Comment: This is very encouraging, let’s increase our prayers for Pastor Abidini.
Iran released prominent lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh and 11 other political prisoners, Iranian media reported on Wednesday. Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has vowed to ease political restrictions.
By News Wires (text)
Iran released a dozen prominent political prisoners, including a human rights lawyer who defended opposition activists and was imprisoned for three years, activists, media and the lawyer’s husband said Wednesday.
The release of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and the other prisoners comes ahead of a visit next week by Iran’s new president to New York to speak at the United Nations.
President Hasan Rouhani has said he hopes to usher in a new era of “increased openness” for the Islamic Republic at home and abroad.
Prominent Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh told AFP on Wednesday that she was in “good” condition after three years in prison, and vowed to continue defending human rights.
“Psychologically, my condition is very good but my experience – with all the psychological pressure, the tense security atmosphere [at the prison], and not having access to phone calls among other things – was very tough,” Sotoudeh told AFP by phone from her home.
When asked if she would continue defending human rights, she said: “Definitely. I have permission to work and I will continue.” (Source: AFP)
The semi-official ISNA news agency and opposition websites reported the release of the prisoners, who had been held on security charges following Iran’s disputed 2009 election. Among them is Mohsen Aminzadeh, who was deputy foreign minister during the administration of reform President Mohammad Khatami.
“This is a positive move for both inside and outside (Iran) by the moderate Rouhani,” Tehran-based political analyst Soroush Farhadi said. “It is a special message suggesting Iran is ready for more flexibility.”
In a statement, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomed the releases and urged Rouhani to continue to take concrete steps toward improving the country’s “urgent human rights situation” ahead of his scheduled U.N. speech on Monday.
Sotoudeh, a 49-year-old mother of two, had been convicted of security offenses and was sentenced to six years in prison after appeals. She began her sentence in September 2010. In March 2011, President Barack Obama called her imprisonment a sign of fear by Iranian authorities. In 2012, the European Union awarded her the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Sotoudeh and her family were unaware she was going to be released, her husband Reza Khandan told The Associated Press.
- Iran ‘frees political prisoners’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Press release: Foreign Secretary welcomes release of Nasrin Sotoudeh (gov.uk)