Kangaroo courts

In a secret trial, Iran convicts lawyer who defended women who removed their hijabs

Nasrin Sotoudeh (Twitter)

An Iranian lawyer who represented women accused of immorality for removing their hijabs has reportedly been convicted in a secret trial on charges of crimes against the state.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, 55, has been imprisoned numerous times in apparent retaliation for her work defending women who removed their hijabs in public — a crime in Iran. Sotoudeh had also recently come under fire from the state for her criticism of a decision to limit legal representation for defendants in political cases to just 20 state-approved lawyers. Now, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, it appears she will face a “very lengthy sentence” after being convicted in a secret trial in which she herself was refused the right to choose her own lawyer.

While no details of the case have been made public, Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director of the Center, said he had been in contact with Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan. According to Ghaemi, Khandan told him that his wife had requested that a lawyer of her choosing be allowed to examine her conviction. The request was denied, Khandan said, after the state told her that “the verdict has been issued and the case is closed.” Khandan was sentenced to six years in prison in January for providing updates about the legal proceedings against his wife on Facebook, but he has yet to be imprisoned.

Ghaemi believes Sotoudeh was facing at least seven charges — including collusion against national security, appearing before a court without a hijab, disturbing the peace, anti-state propaganda, and “encouraging corruption and prostitution.” Iranian news media has yet to report on the conviction, but unconfirmed reports have suggested she was sentenced to 34 years in prison and 134 lashes.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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