Iran's Nobel peace laureate, Shirin Ebadi, says the ongoing crackdown on activists and lawyers shows the extent to which the regime fears human rights defenders, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
Ebadi said the 11-year sentence handed down on January 9 to lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was just the latest example of pressure on such activists brought about by authorities' fear.
She told Radio Farda on January 12 that others include the case of journalist Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand, said to be seriously ill in jail; rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari, jailed for six years last September for "antigovernment activities;" lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh, sentenced last October to nine years in prison and a 10-year ban from practicing law; and Shadi Sadr, a well-known women's rights advocate who was forced to leave Iran.
"These are all clear signs of the fear developing within the government," Ebadi said.
"This fear has developed as the government itself violates the human rights on a systematic scale and does not wish for its actions to be unveiled."
Ebadi said she believes the government is forcing many into exile while meting out harsh prison sentences to others in order to intimidate society.
Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer, was arrested in September and sentenced at the weekend to 11 years in jail for "acting against national security" and for being a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center founded by Ebadi.
Ebadi said Sotoudeh's detention and the condition she was kept under were