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U.K. Law Groups Call For Release Of Jailed Iranian Lawyer

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh
Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh
Two lawyers' associations in Britain are calling on Iran to release a prominent human rights lawyer who was jailed for 11 years earlier this month, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The appeal on behalf of Nasrin Sotoudeh is being made by the Law Society, which represents lawyers in England and Wales, and the Solicitors International Human Rights Group.

Sotoudeh was arrested in September and sentenced on January 9 for "acting against national security" and for being a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center founded by Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.

The case is considered part of a broader crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists in Iran.

"As a professional body representing lawyers we and our members place grave importance around the rule of law," says Desmond Hudson, the Law Society's chief executive.

"The opportunities for further steps that we have are limited. All I think that we can do is continue to speak out in support of lawyers."

Lionel Blackman, of the Solicitors International Human Rights Group, describes Sotoudeh's sentence as "clearly disproportionate."

Her jailing has been condemned by the U.S. State Department, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and human rights groups.