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Iranian Lawyers Demand Release Of Jailed Colleagues

Five Iranian lawyers who are under judicial pressure in Iran; (LTR) Mohammad Najafi, Arash Keykhosravi, Amirsalar Davoudi, Ghasem Sholeh Sadi, and Nasrin Sotoodeh.

In an open letter addressed to the head of Islamic Republic's judiciary, dozens of prominent Iranian attorneys have called for the immediate release of their colleagues, jailed on trumped up charges related to their defense of civil rights.

Referring to the pressures imposed on lawyers by the judicial and intelligence authorities, 49 signatories to the letter have insisted, "Any sort of discrimination, restrictions, and threats against legal counsels is illegal and leads to partial, unfair, and unjust trials."

While several Iranian lawyers are currently behind bars, many more of them are free on huge bails, lined up for their trials.

Meanwhile, the signatories to the letter have asserted that a note added to the Article 48 of the Islamic Penal code is a source of discrimination against most lawyers.

The note limits the job of defending suspects in primary legal stages of national security-related cases to only twenty vetted lawyers, endorsed by the head of Islamic Republic's judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.

"This note practically deprives the majority of defendants of having access to independent and honorable lawyers, and is also a source of unfairness," the attorneys have reminded.

Though the judiciary chief has not yet responded to letter, he said on Thursday, January 24, that a greater number of prisoners are predicted to be pardoned by Khamenei this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

It is not clear if any political prisoners and activists jailed for various offences under Islamic Republic’s anti dissent laws will be freed.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei pardons or commutes the prison terms of non-political convicts sentenced by various Iranian courts on different occasions, in particular on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, February 11, 1979.