Letter from Nasrin Sotoudeh Regarding her Refusal to Appear in Court

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – In an open letter, lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh explained her recent refusal to appear in court. She was arrested on charges of collusion and propaganda against the regime on June 13, 2018, and has since been held at Evin Prison.

On June 23rd, her husband Reza Khandan announced that a bail of 650 million Tomans (approximately $155,000 USD) was set for Sotoudeh. She declined to post bail, however, and has since remained in detention at Evin’s General Ward.

In October 2014, Sotoudeh staged a sit-in before the Iranian Bar Association for several days to protest her three-year suspension from practicing law. Assisted by a number of bar members who rallied behind her cause, the protest eventually resulted in the lifting of the suspension and renewal of her law license.

On Saturday, August 14, 2018, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s attorney Payam Dorafshan reported on two open cases against her. He said, “Nasrin Sotoudeh is presently serving a sentence of five years’ imprisonment for charges of espionage not even contained in her indictment, as well as a detention order issued by the second branch, and is again being brought to conviction in the court of Kashan.”

In September of 2010, Sotoudeh was sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment, twenty years’ suspension from practicing law, and a twenty-two year exit restriction. This sentence was reduced in an appeals court to six years of imprisonment and ten years of licence suspension, and she was eventually released after spending three years in prison.

Nasrin Sotoudeh has refused to respond to her recent court summons and will not be appearing in court. She shares her rationale in the open letter cited below.

My Fellow Citizens,

As you know, two months ago, per the verdict of a trial in absentia in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, I was unlawfully detained and brought to Evin Prison for arraignment.

From the moment I was arraigned, in protest, I have refused the defense chosen for me per the recent amendment to Article 48 of the Criminal Procedure Code. My reasons for refusal are listed below:

1- Precinct 33 Court, which relocated to Evin Prison in the summer of 2009, exclusively handles the cases of political prisoners. Legal practitioners have contested the very existence of this court from the outset, due to its location within a prison, where practitioners work under heavy security surveillance, thus exposing the court to the meddling of national security organs. This violates the independence of the judiciary enshrined in the constitution. Illegally and in violation of article 35 of the constitution, this court prevents defendants from choosing their own attorney.

2- Exercising my right to the attorney of my own choosing, from the moment of my summons to the Evin Court, I provided the names of three colleagues to whom I would entrust my case. However, the prosecutor in charge of my case has to date refused to appoint any of them as my attorney.

As I do not intend to be represented by an attorney approved by the Intelligence Office of the Judiciary, I hereby face my predetermined sentence and refuse to present myself or any defense to the court and inspector.

In hopes that the law and justice be served in our beloved country, Iran,

Nasrin Sotoudeh

August 2018

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