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Iranian Lawyer Presents Her Award to 4 on Death Row

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 award-winning lawyer and defender of human rights Nasrin Sotoudeh, currently imprisoned in Iran, has dedicated her latest award to four Iranians on death row.

In a message from Tehran's notorious Evin prison, Sotoudeh presented her Human Rights Prize from the German Judges Association (DRB) to Navid Afkari, Amir Hossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saeid Tamjidi. The four Iranians are facing the death penalty for participating in protest rallies against corruption, economic hardship, skyrocketing prices and mismanagement by Iranian officials.

Sotoudeh offered her prize to the four imprisoned protesters during a virtual ceremony, Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, tweeted last Tuesday.

On September 2, the DRB awarded its Human Rights Prize to Sotoudeh, who is currently on a hunger strike in Evin in protest of political prisoners' abysmal conditions.

"Nasrin Sotoudeh has become a symbol of the Iranian civil rights movement through her courage and tireless commitment to human rights and the rule of law," the presidents of the German Judges Association said about the prize.

The DRB's Barbara Stockinger and Joachim Lüblinghoff praised Sotoudeh, saying that now more than ever, Sotoudeh deserves broad international support for her "highly impressive commitment in Iran and bring her fate to the public attention."

The Iranian judiciary previously charged Sotoudeh with "assembly and collusion against national security" and "spreading lies and disturbing public opinion," sentencing her to a total of 33 years in jail and 148 lashes.

In a letter on August 11, Sotoudeh announced that she had gone on an open-ended hunger strike. Per her lawyer, Sotoudeh had decided to protest the "unfair" and "illegal" condition of political prisoners in Iran, with the negative treatment "aggravated" since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

"Political [activists] have been accused of unbelievable acts: espionage, corruption on earth, undermining national security, prostitution, forming illegal channels on [messaging app] Telegram which can keep them behind bars for up to ten years or even lead to execution," Sotoudeh wrote.

As a lawyer, Sotoudeh represented human rights activists, women's rights activists, child abuse victims, and juvenile defenders on death row. She was previously jailed from August 2010 to September 2013 for her professional and human rights activities.

In a statement on August 28, the American PEN Association 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.

On September 2, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde expressed concern about Sotoudeh's health, calling on the European Union to once again call for her sentence to be reviewed.

French President Emmanuel Macron invited Sotoudeh to participate in a G7 council for promoting human rights in February 2019, writing to Sotoudeh, "I am pleased to invite you to this initiative to advance real equality between women and men around the world."

Sotoudeh's seat on the French council was kept vacant and adorned with a bouquet while she was behind bars in Evin.