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Jail Term Ambiguity Clarified For Iran Rights Defender - EU Protests

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh shows Charlie Hebdo solidarity.
Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh shows Charlie Hebdo solidarity.

The conflicting reports about the length of jail term of Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh seems to have been resolved.

Her husband Reza Khandan told AFP on Tuesday that she will be serving 10 years of the 33 he had announced yesterday on his Facebook page and in an interview with Radio Farda.

Initially, there was confusion about a seven-year term an Iranian Judge had announced and 33 years her husband disclosed. Now, Khandan says that the ten years added to the 5 years she is currently serving is the longest of seven different verdicts totaling 33 years.

Sotoudeh is an award-winning rights activist who was arrested last June and told she had been found guilty in absentia of espionage charges and sentenced to five years.

In another development, the EU on Tuesday condemned the jail sentence imposed on Sotoudeh, calling for an "immediate review" of the case.

The bloc said the Iranian rights defender had not had a fair trial at Tehran's Revolutionary Court and insisted her right to appeal must be respected.

The EU said it "expects an immediate review of her sentence as well as the conviction of her husband Reza Khandan, who was sentenced to six years' imprisonment in January 2019".

The United Nations' top expert on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, said the reported conviction was "a crystal-clear illustration of an increasingly severe state response".

"There is an increasing concern that the civil space for human rights lawyers and defenders is being reduced," he told journalists in Geneva.

Before her arrest, Sotoudeh, 55, had taken on the cases of several women arrested for appearing in public without headscarves in protest at the mandatory dress code in force in Iran.

She also spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of the ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

With reporting by AFP