Husband of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer subpoenaed by the judiciary


The husband of prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is facing a five-year prison sentence, Sotoudeh told CNN on Tuesday.

Reza Khandan was summoned to report to the judiciary within 30 days to begin serving the sentence originally handed down in 2019.

Sotoudeh said her husband’s subpoena came from her home in Tehran days before she spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, but he had not informed her of the matter.

Sotoudeh (left) pictured with Khandan in September 2013.

“I ask for help from all free consciences (around the world) to prove that human solidarity (exists) and to end oppression in order to achieve basic rights,” Sotoudeh said.

In her interview with Amanpour, Sotoudeh made it clear that she and her family know the risks of speaking out publicly.

Although she admitted to being “anxious” for her safety and that of her family, she told Amanpour, “I’m also afraid that if I do nothing, if I remain passive, it will make the situation worse.”

According to the semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA, Khandan was arrested in 2018 for his activism and support for his wife’s fight against Iran’s mandatory hijab laws.

Sotudeh in December 2014 in Tehran, Iran.

Khandan’s lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, said his client had been charged with “collecting and collusion against national security”; “Anti-regime propaganda”; and “Promoting and Promoting Hijab Avoidance”.

Khandan was briefly held in prison before being released under Moghimi’s tutelage in late 2018, according to ISNA. He was then convicted in 2019 but not taken into custody to serve the five-year sentence.

Khandan’s lawyer is expected to go to the prosecutor’s office on Sunday to find out if the judiciary plans to let his client serve out the remainder of his sentence.

“It is only natural that all of us, including my children, are concerned about the execution of the sentence,” Sotoudeh said. “If I still have hope that the (judiciary) will not carry out the sentence, then it is out of solidarity and philanthropy.”

Sotoudeh (left) with Meysami (middle) and Khandan (right).

News of Khadan’s subpoena comes days after his wife spoke exclusively with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about recent protests in Iran, political prisoners and growing concerns about the health of Sotoudeh’s friend, jailed Iranian doctor and civil rights activist Farhad Meysami.

Meysami was jailed in 2018 after expressing his support for women protesting the mandatory hijab law, according to ISNA. The activist was charged with “assembly and collusion against national security” and “anti-regime propaganda,” according to the Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

“For many years Farhad has been a very active member of our civil society, but over the past 10 years (his) activism has become increasingly open. And he particularly supported the women in their protest movement,” Sotoudeh told Amanpour.

Meysami was released from prison last Friday as part of an annual amnesty granted by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

But many other activists and protesters remain in detention or face detention.

“Despite the release of dozens of political prisoners, the crackdown continues,” Omid Memarian, a senior Iran analyst at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), told CNN.

“There are many activists who have been subpoenaed or are expected to go to jail to complete the remainder of their suspended sentences.”

Memarian expressed his outrage and disappointment at what he describes as a temporary stay for pardoned protesters who he says are likely to be called back to prison to serve out the remainder of their sentences.

“These activists have called for freedom for women, freedom to choose what to wear, and they have fought against compulsory hijab,” he said.

“By now sending Khandan to prison for these activities, it shows us that the government’s approach to compulsory hijab has not really changed. They will continue to criminalize the fight against compulsory hijab and show zero tolerance for activists who speak up.”

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