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American PEN Calls For Immediate Release Of Iran Rights Defender

Human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh talks on the phone at her house in Tehran, September 18, 2013
Human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh talks on the phone at her house in Tehran, September 18, 2013

A renowned Iranian writer, human rights lawyer and activist, Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh is reportedly in critical condition after being on hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin prison for over two weeks, the U.S. Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN) said in a statement Friday, August 28.

Meanwhile, the PEN has called for the immediate release of Sotoudeh and other political prisoners as well as an end to judicial and legal harassment of her and her family.

In addition to the statement published on the official website of the Pen's website, the director of its "Freedom of Expression at Risk" section, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, expressed concern over Ms. Sotoudeh's health and fate in prison.

Nasrin Sotoudeh spent her life defending the human rights of Iranians, especially women, Deutsch Karlekar stressed, adding, "On August 11, she started her second hunger strike this year to protest the maltreatment of Iranian political prisoners vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has ravaged the country’s prisons. She is now facing the direst of consequences for her activism and expression. Her life hangs in the balance. We call on the government of Iran to rescind the unjust sentences meted out to Nasrin and other political prisoners."

At the same time, dozens of civil activists have called for launching a "Twitterstorm" in Support of Sotoudeh.

Mother of two, 57-year-old Sotoudeh has been sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison, and 148 lashes on ambiguous charges of "conspiracy against national security, spreading lies, and disturbing public opinion."

In a letter requesting the release of all political prisoners on August 11, Sotoudeh announced starting a new round of a hunger strike behind bars in Tehran's infamous prison, Evin.

Ms. Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, wrote on social media on Thursday that his wife suffered from fluctuating blood pressure and a sharp rise in blood sugar, during which she lost about six kilograms (roughly thirteen pounds), while she only weighed 53 kilograms (about 117 pounds) before the hunger strike.

The American Pen Association granted Nasrin Sotoudeh the "Freedom to Write Award" in April 2011.