Jailed Iranian rights lawyer rushed to hospital after long hunger strike


Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned for defending women activists, has been hospitalised after being “severely weakened” after an over 40-day hunger strike, her husband said on Saturday.

Reza Khandan told AFP that his wife was transferred to the cardiac care unit shortly after being taken to the emergency ward of Tehran’s Taleghani hospital.

“We were allowed to see her for a few moments,” Khandan added. “She was severely weakened, lost a lot of weight and had sunken eyes”.

Sotoudeh has been on a hunger strike since August 11 to highlight her call for the freeing of Iran’s political prisoners and direct attention towards their condition during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call was made by Sotoudeh in a social media post published by her husband.

The virus has so far killed over 24,000 and infected close to 420,000 Iranians, according to official figures.

Khandan told AFP he worried for his wife as the hospital “is not a safe place vis-a-vis the coronavirus” and lacks “proper isolation” with many infected patients.

But her last scan has not shown a sign of infection, he added.

Sotoudeh, 57, is a co-laureate of the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize.

She is serving a 12-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison after she defended women arrested for protesting compulsory hijab laws.

“It is all very difficult,” Khandan said, having just returned home from the hospital around midnight.

“The prison does not cooperate, they don’t properly answer when you ask about (prisoners’) condition. They had not even told us” of her hospitalisation, he added.

Sotoudeh’s family were notified of her condition through one of her fellow inmates.

Sotoudeh won the Sakharov Prize in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases including those of convicts on death row for offences committed as minors.

She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of the ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Source: Bangkok Post)