Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iranian Activist Sotoudeh Contracts Coronavirus, Husband Says, Amid 'Catastrophic' Prison Conditions

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh
Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights lawyer who was temporarily released from prison last week, has tested positive for the coronavirus, her husband has said.

Reza Khandan wrote on Facebook on November 11 that his wife contracted the virus at the Gharchak women's prison in Tehran, where she was transferred last month.

The conditions at the prison were particularly “catastrophic,” he said.

Sotoudeh was released from prison on November 8, after warnings last month by human rights groups that her health had severely deteriorated following a seven-week hunger strike.

The 57-year-old lawyer, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory headscarf, was arrested in 2018 and charged with spying, spreading propaganda, and insulting Iran's supreme leader.

Sotoudeh, who denied the charges, was sentenced to a total of 38 1/2 years in prison and 148 lashes.

In September, she was transferred from a prison cell to a hospital north of Tehran following her hunger strike for better prison conditions and the release of political prisoners and rights activists.

Days later, Sotoudeh was taken back to Tehran's Evin prison and ended her hunger strike after nearly 50 days due to deteriorating health, according to her husband.

The European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov Prize for human rights in 2012.

Iran has granted temporary release to thousands of prisoners following concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in jails in the Middle East's worst-hit country.

The Iranian health authorities have registered nearly 40,000 deaths in connection with the virus and more than 700,000 infections since the beginning of the pandemic.

On November 11, 11,780 new infections were reported over the previous 24 hours, with over 462 deaths.