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IRAN: Reza Khandan, human rights defender and husband of Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh summoned to prison  

  23rd February, 2023 

The Observatory learns with great concern from the media that on Tuesday 14th February 2023, Reza Khandan, human rights defender in Iran and husband of the lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, was summoned to prison within 30 days.   

The summons comes a few days after Nasrin Sotoudeh, on furlough from her own 38-year sentence, gave an interview to CNN in which she supports the protesters and calls on the Iranian authorities to release Farhad Meysami, doctor and human rights activist, who is in critical health condition following a hunger strike.  

Following Sotoudeh’s interview, the Observatory has reasonable grounds to believe that Reza Khandan, could serve the remainder of a six years’ imprisonment sentence, to which he was sentenced in 2019.  

Indeed, in September 2018, Reza Khandan had been arrested and charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” and “colluding to commit crimes against national security”, after posting online about his wife’s unfair imprisonment in June 2018 and protesting against the compulsory hijab policy.   

After 4 months in prison and his release on bail in December 2018, Reza Khandan was sentenced, in January 2019 by the 15th branch of the Revolutionary Court to six years’ imprisonment. His sentence had not been enforced, until this new summons. 

In a context where the punishment of relatives is a common practice, there is every reason to believe that this summon is linked to Nasrin Sotoudeh’s public statements. This is not the first time that Reza Khandan has been a target of punitive measures by judicial and state security agencies in order to put pressure on his wife and their family. In February 2021, his accounts were frozen and their daughter arrested.  

The Observatory strongly condemns this attempt by the Iranian authorities to pressure the lawyer into silence.   

The Observatory calls on the Iranian authorities to comply with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which protect the freedom of speech of lawyers (principle 23).  

The Observatory condemns the instrumentalisation of judicial decisions and their use as a weapon of intimidation and gagging of lawyers’ freedom of speech.   

The Observatory recalls that under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (principle 16), “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all their professional functions without hindrance, intimidation, interference or harassment […]”. 

The Observatory salutes the struggle of Reza Khandan and Nasrin Sotoudeh for human rights in Iran and recalls its unwavering solidarity with them.