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Iran's Judiciary Has Blocked Prominent Jailed Lawyer's Bank Account, Husband Says

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (file photo)

Iran’s judiciary has blocked the bank account of prominent imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in a move aimed at adding pressure on her and her family.

Speaking to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 27, Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, said his wife's bank account with Pasargad Bank in Tehran has been blocked since May on the orders of the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office.

Sotoudeh, the co-winner of the European Parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, was sentenced last year to 38 years in prison over her defense of political prisoners, including women protesting the compulsory hijab law. Sotoudeh was also jailed from 2010 to 2013 over her human rights work.

Khandan wrote on Facebook that the prosecutor’s move "is aimed at putting economic pressure and financially hurting the family in a time of crisis and economic collapse due to the incompetence of the government and the ruling establishment."

Iran’s economy has significantly deteriorated in recent months due to crippling U.S. sanctions, mismanagement, and the coronavirus pandemic that has led to a drop in non-oil exports.

Khandan said he only recently found out the account had been closed and that efforts by Sotoudeh’s lawyer to regain control of the funds have failed.

“We will not stay silent in the face of such inhuman actions,“ Khandan said on Facebook on July 27.

He also suggested that by increasing the pressure on Sotoudeh and her family, the powerful judiciary was sending a message to others pushing for more rights and freedom in the Islamic republic.

“The authorities think that prison has lost its effectiveness and dissidents are resuming their activities as soon as they get out of prison,” Khandan said.

“They want to send a message to those who are willing to go to prison,” he added.

The CHRI condemned the judiciary’s move as an attempt to impose additional punishments on human rights advocates and their families “beyond the already unlawful sentences applied in kangaroo courts.”

“The authorities in Iran have seen that repeatedly imprisoning Nasrin Sotoudeh and other human rights defenders has not silenced demands for basic civil and political rights, so they are going after them extrajudicially to inflict additional pain on their families,” Hadi Ghaemi, executive director at the CHRI, said in a statement e-mailed to RFE/RL.

Iran has in recent years intensified its pressure on human rights lawyers by sentencing them to long prison terms for their rights activism and defense of political prisoners.

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