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Health Of Jailed Iranian Rights Activist On Hunger Strike Deteriorates

FRANCE -- A banner with a giant portrait of jailed Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh by Arash Ashourinia is seen on the headquarters of the French National Bar Council, demanding her release, in Paris, March 28, 2019

The husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist who is on hunger strike at Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, said Thursday her health has badly deteriorated after seventeen days of refusing food.

Ms. Sotoudeh went on a hunger strike on August 11 to protest the "unfair" and "illegal" conditions of political prisoners in Iran and said their situation has even worsened after the coronavirus pandemic.

In social media posts on Thursday, Reza Khandan wrote that Ms. Sotoudeh's blood pressure and blood sugar levels are fluctuating greatly, and she has gone down to forty-seven kilos from fifty-three.

According to Mr. Khandan nausea does not allow Ms. Sotoudeh to drink enough water or sugar so her blood sugar level sometimes drops to as low as 44.

The international award-winning lawyer and rights activist has been sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison and 148 lashes on several charges, including conspiracy against national security, spreading lies and disturbing public opinion.

On August 17 security forces arrested Ms. Sotoudeh's twenty-one-year-old daughter Mehraveh Khandan for interrogation but released her on the same day. The arrest is believed to have been a pressure tactic against her mother.

On August 22 forty-four Iranian lawyers in a letter urged Ms. Sotoudeh and other political prisoners to end their hunger strikes and not endanger their own lives.

Iranian authorities have freed tens of thousands of ordinary prisoners since the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic in the country but have refused to grant furlough to political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience including Ms. Sotoudeh.

"Ms. Sotoudeh and some of our oppressed compatriots in prison, who do not find a way to reclaim their rights as well as the rights of the people, have gone on a hunger strike as a last resort endangering their own lives," the lawyers said in their letter, adding, "by risking their health, they seek to influence the authoritarian and extra-judicial behavior of the rulers and to convey their message to the people.