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     Home > Justice and Peace >  2013-09-20 16:01:03
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Iran releases human rights lawyer, other prisoners

September 20, 2013 - Iran released a dozen prominent political prisoners on Wednesday, including a human rights lawyer who defended opposition activists and was imprisoned for three years. The release of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and the other prisoners comes ahead of a visit next week by Iran's new president to New York to speak at the United Nations. President Hasan Rouhani has said he hopes to usher in a new era of ``increased openness'' for the Islamic Republic at home and abroad. The semi-official ISNA news agency and opposition websites reported the release of the prisoners, who had been held on security charges following Iran's disputed 2009 election. Among them is Mohsen Aminzadeh, who was deputy foreign minister during the administration of reform President Mohammad Khatami. ``This is a positive move for both inside and outside (Iran) by the moderate Rouhani,'' Tehran-based political analyst Soroush Farhadi said. ``It is a special message suggesting Iran is ready for more flexibility.'' In a statement, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran welcomed the releases and urged Rouhani to continue to take concrete steps toward improving the country's ``urgent human rights situation'' ahead of his scheduled U.N. speech on Monday.
Sotoudeh, a 49-year-old mother of two, had been convicted of security offenses and was sentenced to six years in prison after appeals. She began her sentence in September 2010. In March 2011, President Barack Obama called her imprisonment a sign of fear by Iranian authorities. In 2012, the European Union awarded her the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. European Parliament President Martin Schulz has welcomed Sotoudeh's release. (Source: AP)


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