Iran temporarily frees human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh – The Guardian

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Iran has temporarily released Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent lawyer who was jailed two years ago on spying and propaganda charges, the judiciary’s news agency reported.

Sotoudeh’s release followed warnings last month by human rights groups that her health had severely deteriorated after she staged a six-week hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners and rights activists.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh … went on furlough with the agreement of the assistant superintendent of the women’s prison,” the judiciary’s Mizan news agency said, without giving further details.

Iran has granted temporary release to thousands of prisoners following concerns over the spread of the coronavirus in jails in the Middle East’s worst-hit country.

Sotoudeh, 57, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their headscarf, was arrested in 2018 and charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader.

The human rights lawyer, who denied the charges, was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

Eight years earlier, she was jailed on similar propaganda charges and for conspiring to harm state security – charges she also denied – and was released after serving half of her six-year term.

The European parliament awarded her the Sakharov prize for human rights in 2012.

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