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Prominent Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Ignores Court Summons

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in Tehran after being freed following three years in prison, September 18, 2013

Prominent human rights activist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has disregarded a summons issued by the Revolutionary Court at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

“The legal procedure for summoning me has not been respected,” Sotoudeh said, adding that she knows they will not treat her fairly.

In an interview with the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Sotoudeh announced on November 20, “I know the court will not follow legal procedures and I will be tried under unfair circumstances, therefore I will not appear in court; I know I have not broken any laws.”

The summons, issued on November 16, warned that she would be arrested if she did not comply with the order within three to five days.

While maintaining she has no idea why she has been summoned, Sotoudeh noted, “I represented Parastou Forouhar after her family home was burglarized, and I have defended children who have been sexually abused. Perhaps these cases have touched raw nerves.”

Foruhar is the daughter of two victims of a series of murders of prominent personalities and intellectuals orchestrated by the state three decades ago.

Parvaneh Eskandari and Dariush Forouhar were among the victims of a series of political murders (1988-98) of critics of the Iranian regime and particularly Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A later investigation proved that Intelligence Ministry agents were responsible for the murders.

Reportedly, the victims included more than 80 writers, translators, poets, political activists, and ordinary citizens were killed by a variety of means -- car crashes, stabbings, shootings in staged robberies, injections with potassium to simulate heart attacks.

Earlier, Parastou Forouhar had maintained that the burglary case was practically shelved without any tangible outcome.

In 2010, Sotoudeh was sentenced to 11 years in prison, charged with acting against national security, collusion and propaganda against the regime, and membership in the Center for the Defenders of Human Rights, according to CHRI.

An appeals court later reduced her sentence to six years in prison and she was granted early release in September 2013 after serving half of her term behind bars.

In August 2014, the Lawyers’ Court at the Tehran Bar Association overturned the ban on Sotoudeh’s legal practice and ruled that she could continue to work as a licensed lawyer in Iran.

Asked by CHRI about her practice in April 2016, Sotoudeh replied, “I am only allowed to take on general civil cases now. I cannot defend suspects in political and security cases.”

“Individuals charged with security offenses have wanted me to defend them, but the judicial authorities would not allow it,” she said. “For instance, a while ago [prominent reformist journalist] Issa Saharkhiz told the judge that I was his lawyer, but the judge refused.”