March 24, 2019

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She Defended Iranian Women Who Removed Their Head-Coverings. Now She Is a Convict.

She Defended Iranian Women Who Removed Their Head-Coverings. Now She Is a Convict.
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While the details have not been disclosed, Mr. Ghaemi said, at least seven charges are believed to have been lodged against Ms. Sotoudeh. They included collusion against national security, anti-state propaganda, membership in illicit groups, appearing before the judiciary without the required head-covering, disturbing the peace, publishing falsehoods to disturb public opinion, and “encouraging corruption and prostitution.”

“Each charge has many years,” Mr. Ghaemi said. “It could be a very lengthy sentence.”

Ms. Sotoudeh’s conviction has not been reported in official Iranian news media. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Iran’s United Nations mission in New York.

The prosecution of Ms. Sotoudeh has come against the backdrop of a resurgence of influence by the most hard-line elements of Iran’s leadership, particularly since the Trump administration took office two years ago.

President Trump has moved aggressively to ostracize Iran, renouncing the nuclear agreement it reached with the Obama administration and five other world powers, and reimposing sanctions that the accord had eased in return for Iran’s peaceful nuclear development.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has said the Trump administration’s policies proved his longstanding suspicion that the United States could not be trusted — a view that may have emboldened the hard-liners in the government and weakened President Hassan Rouhani, who is considered a relative moderate.

The National Iranian American Council, a Washington-based group that advocates for improved relations with Iran but is highly critical of the country’s human rights record, said it was appalled by news of Ms. Sotoudeh’s conviction and called for her immediate release.

Jamal Abdi, the council’s president, said in a statement that responsibility for Ms. Sotoudeh’s incarceration “lies squarely with the Iranian authorities.” But he also pointed a finger at the Trump administration.

“As hard-liners seek to match Trump’s bellicosity and undermine moderates and the will of the Iranian people,” Mr. Abdi said, “human rights proponents like Sotoudeh often become the first victims.”



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