European politicians call on Iran to release EU prize winner
News | 14.06.2018
EU politicians urged Iran on Thursday to “immediately” release Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer and winner of the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, said in a Facebook post Wednesday that she was arrested at home and taken to Evin prison in Tehran. She managed to tell him through a phone call after the arrest that she had been convicted in absentia and would be serving a five-year sentence, according to the Associated Press. But Khandan said he did not know what the sentence was related to.
“Of all the functions that governments of the world are expected to do, the Iranian one is only good at arresting and imprisoning innocent people,” Khandan wrote on Facebook.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani called on Iran on Thursday “to immediately release” Sotoudeh.
“The European Parliament stands by all human rights defenders,” Tajani tweeted.
Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala and Pier Antonio Panzeri, chair of the subcommittee on human rights, also called on Iranian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release the EU prize winner.
“We strongly condemn her arrest,” they said in a joint statement.
Sotoudeh was named a recipient of the EU’s Sakharov Prize in 2012, following her work to defend dissenters arrested in mass protests against the country’s controversial 2009 presidential election. The prize, named after the Soviet-era dissident Andrei Sakharov, is awarded to individuals who have made an “exceptional” contribution to the fight for human rights globally. When Sotoudeh won the prize, she was serving a jail sentence on charges of endangering Iran’s national security.
More recently, Sotoudeh defended women protesting the country’s obligatory Islamic headscarf.