Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, pictured in an undated photo made available… (European Pressphoto Agency…)
TEHRAN -- Imprisoned human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh has dwindled down to 95 pounds as her hunger strike continues into its 42nd day, her husband said in a phone interview.
Sotoudeh, who is known for defending Iranian dissidents, was convicted last year of spreading propaganda against the government and acting against national security. She faces six years behind bars at a Tehran prison and will be banned from practicing law for a decade.
Human rights groups denounced the prison sentence as an attempt to quash her activism. Before her arrest, Sotoudeh had spoken out against the unannounced execution of one of her clients.
While jailed at Evin Prison, Sotoudeh has protested the restrictions placed on her husband and 12-year-old daughter, who are barred from leaving the country. Her family has also agitated against not being allowed to hug their mother on visits. In October she went on hunger strike.
“In the past 42 days she has drunk only salt water and sugar water solutions,” her husband, Reza Khandan, said in a phone interview. She weighed roughly 95 pounds the last time her family saw her. “Now she may have lost even more weight.”
Sotoudeh spent 17 days in solitary confinement in punishment for her hunger strike, according to her husband, but was back in the ward with other female prisoners as of last week.
Khandan also complained that prison officials are not allowing the entire family to visit weekly, as is usually permitted. The Dutch foundation Lawyers for Lawyers sent a petition Monday to the Iranian Embassy in the Netherlands, alarmed about her deteriorating health.
“Human rights lawyers do not belong in prison in the first place, and under all circumstances they are entitled to decent and equal treatment like any other prisoner,” said the group's president, Phon van den Biesen.
Khandan, his young son and his sister-in-law plan to visit Sotoudeh on Tuesday. Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, told PBS Newshour last week that Sotoudeh “has enjoyed all rights including access to her attorney in accordance with the current laws and regulations.”
Human rights groups counter that Sotoudeh is among a string of Iranian attorneys, activists and journalists denied regular visits from their families. Several detainees have also been denied access to adequate medical care, rights groups said in a joint statement last month. Nine other female prisoners also went on hunger strike this fall, alleging abuse by guards.
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Emily Alpert in Los Angeles contributed to this report.