Human Rights House of Iran – Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani to18 years in prison and exile to the city of Borazjan.
Abdolfattah Soltani , award winning human rights lawyer, was detained on September 10, 2011 and transferred to Ward 209 of Evin prison. Judge Pir-Abassi presiding over Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court handed down an 18-year prison sentence that has been announced to Abdolfattah Soltani’s lawyers. In addition to the prison term, this human rights lawyer was handed a 20-year ban from practicing law.
Human Rights House reports that the sentencing stemmed from the charges of “propaganda against the regime,” “co-founding the Defenders of Human Rights Center [with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi]” and “assembly and collusion against the regime.” In addition he was charged with “accepting an illegal prize” and “illegal earnings” stemming from the prize.
The mayor of Nuremberg, Germany awarded Abdollah Soltani the Nuremberg prize for Human Rights in 2009 and his wife accepted the reward on his behalf. The Nuremberg Prize has been awarded yearly to a human rights activist since 1995.
Abdolfatah Soltani, born on November 2, 1953, is a prominent human rights lawyer, a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and serves on the board of directors of the Bar Association. During his tenure as a lawyer he has defended cases with issues of human rights violations for many including political activists, students and journalists.
Soltani had been arrested before in 2006 and spent 209 days in solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin prison. He had pled the cases of scientists accused of spying on Iran’s nuclear program and charged with espionage. He was subsequently charged with “illegal divulgence of secret and confidential information” of one of his clients.
At that time Soltani was also defending the cases of journalists Akbar Ganji and Zahra Kazemi. Ganji had broken stories of government officials involved in the murders of intellectuals and journalists in the 1990’s. Zahra Kazemi was an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was arrested for taking photos in front of Evin prison. She was tortured and died while in custody in Evin prison in July 2003. The intelligence agent charged with being responsible for her death was acquitted and with Soltani’s help, her family was in the process of appealing to a get a new enquiry started.
Amnesty International said it believed that false charges were brought against Soltani in order to obstruct him from practicing his profession and intimidating other lawyers and stopping them from pursuing human rights cases. After his detention last September the organization said “Abdolfattah Soltani is one of the bravest human rights defenders in Iran.”
The lower court in the 2006 case presided by Judge Mortazavi sentenced Soltani to 5 years in prison. However after spending 209 days behind bars, the Court of Appeals struck down the sentence and handed Soltani a full acquittal.
Soltani was released with no apology, admittance of wrongdoing or retribution from the Justice Ministry. His efforts to have judicial authorities responsible for his arrest prosecuted heeded no results.
This prominent attorney had also been arrested on June 16, 2009 following the disputed presidential elections after which on August 27, 2009 he was released with an $80,000 bail.
Human Rights House of Iran