[QODLink]
Middle East

Iran releases prominent political dissidents

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh among 11 political prisoners freed unexpectedly by authorities.

Last Modified: 19 Sep 2013 04:43
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Sotoudeh had been serving a six-year sentence after being arrested in September 10 [EPA]

Eleven of Iran's most prominent political prisoners, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, have been unexpectantly freed by authorities in Iran days before President Hassan Rouhani's first speech to the United Nations.

Sotoudeh was released on Wednesday evening along with 10 others detained after unrest that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of 2009 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Sotoudeh, who was serving six years for “acting against national security”, told the New York Times: “I don’t know why they released me. I don’t know under what legal basis they released me. But I am free.”

Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, told the Reuters news agency that his wife was dropped off at their home by prison authorities "It's not temporary, it's freedom," Khandan said. "We are all so happy from the depths of our hearts."

Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010 and convicted of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm the state.

She staged a 50-day hunger strike last year to protest against the authorities' treatment of her daughter, who was subjected to a travel ban.

"Psychologically, my condition is very good but my experience - with all the psychological pressure, the tense security atmosphere, and not having access to make phone calls - was very tough," she told the AFP news agency after her release.

The release of the dissidents come less than a week before President Rouhani addresses the UN General Assembly for the first time and is expected to present a less confrontational image than Ahmadinejad, under whose eight years in power Iran came under ever-tougher Western trade sanctions.

Rouhani pledged during his election campaign to ease some political and social restrictions, and his supporters have called for the release of political prisoners.

Prior to her arrest, Sotoudeh had defended journalists and rights activists including Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.

She also represented Zahra Bahrami, a woman with dual Iranian and Dutch nationality who was hanged in January 2011 on drug-trafficking charges.

312

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.