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New 'Hijab' Charges Brought Against Iranian Rights Lawyer

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (2008 photo)

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (2008 photo)

New criminal charges have been brought against detained Iranian human rights lawyer and women's rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, her husband has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Reza Khandan told Radio Farda on December 14 that his wife must appear in court on December 27 to defend herself against charges of "not wearing the hijab" and "not observing Islamic standards of conduct."

Khandan said that when his wife was barred from leaving Iran to receive an international human rights award in 2008, she sent a message via video clip to the International Human Rights Committee in Italy, which had selected her as the awardee.

"Her new charge is that she did not wear a head scarf in that video clip," Khandan said.

Sotoudeh was taken into custody on September 4 on charges of "acting against national security," "assembly and collusion to disrupt security," and "cooperation with the Defenders for Human Rights Center," a prominent organization chaired by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Khandan said Sotoudeh has not yet been sentenced, but in a phone call late on December 13 she said that she was told by officials that they would not let the judge sentence her to less than 10 years imprisonment.

Sotoudeh has staged three hunger strikes since her detention. She began the most recent one on December 7. Khandan said that she has become extremely weak:

"She could barely talk, and during our last phone conversation it cost her a lot of energy to utter every sentence," he said.

Sotoudeh represented a number of political prisoners who were arrested during the unrest following last year's disputed presidential election.

Audio version of this story in Persian here