Shirin Ebadi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, told Radio Farda that rights abuses -- such as executions of minors and media censorship -- had worsened in the past year, but that military action was not the solution to Iran's domestic problems.
"A military attack will under any circumstances worsen our situation," Ebadi said on the sidelines of an international conference in Prague this week. "It'll give the government the opportunity to use defense of national security as a pretext to increase its suppression of defenders of freedom."
Washington has said it wants to resolve through diplomacy the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which Western powers suspect is secretly aimed at developing nuclear weapons. But U.S. officials have also said all options are open, prompting increased speculation in recent months of a possible U.S. military strike.
Ebadi also said anyone speaking out for democracy and human rights in Iran is accused of receiving funds from Washington and of trying to launch a "velvet revolution," a reference to the upheavals that toppled regimes in Communist Europe. But she said this was precisely the time when human-rights defenders had to be most active.
Earlier this year, two U.S.-Iranian academics detained in Iran were accused of taking part in an alleged U.S.-backed attempt to incite a velvet revolution. Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and Kian Tajbakhsh, who worked with George Soros's Open Society Institute, were released after several months in prison.
Parnaz Azima, a broadcaster in Prague with Radio Farda, was also prevented from leaving Iran after going there to visit to her sick mother in January. Authorities confiscated her passport and charged her with working with Radio Farda and spreading propaganda against the state. On September 3, intelligence officials told her to collect her passport. Azima left Iran on September 18.