EU worries about human right situation in Iran
Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 16 /Trend T.Konyayeva/
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton voiced her concerns over the human right situation in Iran, the official statement reads.
"I remain deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Iran. Just over a year ago, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is now serving an 11-year prison sentence, was arrested."
"The EU maintains its concerns about her case, which have not met with any convincing response when raised with the authorities. On the contrary, I am now informed of the recent arrest of Abdolfattah Soltani, a prominent human rights defender and. Sotoudeh's own lawyer," Ashton said in her statement.
Ashton underscored that this illustrates the erosion of political and civil freedoms in Iran and is indicative of the increasingly difficult conditions for human rights activists in Iran.
She hailed the release of Dr. Arash Alaei, an Aids doctor imprisoned since 2008, in connection with the end of Ramadan pardon.
"But I remain worried that, despite the overall release of 1200 prisoners, many are still detained on grounds which appear above all political," Ashton said.
The ongoing persecution of human rights lawyers and activists in Iran is in breach of the
international obligations that Iran has itself signed up to, she added.
"I therefore call on Iran to release them immediately and to allow them to exercise their rights freely," Ashton concluded.
The 45-year-old Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has represented several political activists and protesters arrested in recent years, has been kept in Tehran's Evin prison since September, 2010. She was originally sentenced in January to 11 years in prison and banned for 20 years from working as a lawyer or travelling abroad. Sotoudeh was arrested on charges of "acting against the national security", "propaganda against the regime" and "membership of Human Rights Defenders Centre" - a rights organisation presided over by the Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.
On September, 14, an appeals court in Iran has reduced Sotoudeh's jail sentence to six years, her husband said, The Guardian reported.
Sotoudeh's lawer Abdolfattah Soltani, a co-founder of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders along with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and others, was arrested on Sept. 10 at a prosecutor's office in Tehran.
Arash Alaei, an internationally renowned expert in the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS who was not politically active, had been held since his arrest in June 2008. He was serving a six year prison term after conviction of "co-operating with an enemy government".