The United States says it is “deeply concerned” by reports that prominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been arrested in Tehran and calls for her immediate release.
Sotoudeh “has spent the past several years harassed by the Iranian regime and has been routinely placed behind bars for daring to defend the rights of those in Iran,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a June 14 statement.
“We applaud Ms. Sotoudeh’s bravery and her fight for the long-suffering victims of the regime," she added.
Nauert called on Iranian authorities “to release her immediately, along with the hundreds of others who are currently imprisoned simply for expressing their views and desires for a better life.”
There was no immediate comment from Iranian authorities.
Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, wrote on Facebook that security forces appeared at the couple's home on June 13 and took his wife to a court at Tehran's Evin prison.
Khandan told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that security forces said they were taking Sotoudeh away over a prison sentence issued in the past, adding that his wife didn’t know “anything” about the case.
The London-based human rights group Amnesty International also condemned Sotoudeh’s detention, calling it an "outrageous attack on a brave and prolific human rights defender."
The 55-year-old human rights lawyer has been pressured and jailed in the past for taking up sensitive cases.
The mother of two was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to six years in prison on a number of charges, including acting against Iran's national security.
She was released in 2013 after serving three years.
In 2012, the European Parliament gave its most prestigious award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, to Sotoudeh and acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi.