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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Husband of jailed human rights lawyer arrested in Iran

Reza Khandan had been campaigning for his wife Nasrin Sotoudeh’s release

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and her husband Reza Khandan. Amnesty International
Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and her husband Reza Khandan. Amnesty International

The husband of one of Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyers, who was jailed in Tehran earlier this year, has himself been arrested, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.

Reza Khandan, who has been campaigning for his wife Nasrin Sotoudeh’s release, wrote a Facebook post on Monday saying that he had been called in for questioning by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. He said he was told he would be arrested if he did not attend.

Ms Sotoudeh is currently on hunger strike in the country’s notorious Evin prison in protest at the Iranian authorities’ harassment of her family, the charity said. She was arrested in June and charged with several national security offences.

In her capacity as a human rights lawyer, Ms Sotoudeh has represented many female activists who removed their headscarves in public in protest against Iranian state enforcement of the garment. She has previously served jail time for “spreading propaganda” and “conspiring to harm state security”- charges which she denies- and was released in 2013.

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Mr Khandan’s lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi said his client had been charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” and “colluding to commit crimes against national security” in a Facebook post.

Mr Moghimi said his client had also been accused of “promoting the practice of appearing in public without a veil” in relation to his support for Iranian women’s campaign against forced veiling.

“First the authorities jail Nasrin Sotoudeh on bogus charges, then harass, intimidate and threaten her family and friends, and now arrest her husband,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

“These callous actions illustrate the lengths to which Iranian authorities will go to silence human rights lawyers, even targeting their families.”

The Iranian authorities have yet to comment on the arrest of Mr Khandan.

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