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Leading Iranian Rights Advocate Hospitalized With ‘Heart Problems’

IRAN -- Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is seen in Tehran on November 1, 2008.

Prominent Iranian human rights advocate Nasrin Sotoudeh has been hospitalized with heart problems, said her husband, Reza Khandan.

Sotoudeh has been on a hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin prison since August 11 to protest the risk that political prisoners in Iran face amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sotoudeh was suffering from “heart problems, shortness of breath, very low blood pressure, and severe general weakness,” Khandan wrote on Twitter on September 19.

Khandan said she was transferred to a coronary care unit due to her “serious condition.”

Sotoudeh has said she will refuse to eat to secure the release of political prisoners who have not been included in temporary prison leaves granted to tens of thousands of detainees, according to Iranian authorities, to prevent the spread of the virus in the country’s overcrowded prisons.

The pandemic has killed more than 24,000 Iranians and infected over 400,000, according to official figures. Real numbers are believed to be significantly higher.

Sotoudeh, co-winner of the European Parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, has been surviving on water, tea, sugar, and salt, amid concerns over her health, her husband has said.

Sotoudeh was arrested at her home in Tehran in June 2018.

She was sentenced to a total of 38 ½ years in prison and 148 lashes over her defense of political prisoners, including women protesting the compulsory hijab law.