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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hunger striking Iranian human rights lawyer back in prison, husband says

Nasrin Sotoudeh went on hunger strike to protest prison conditions [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 September, 2020

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Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was sent to hospital after going on hunger strike for 40 days to demand the release of political prisoners, has been sent back to prison

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was hospitalised after going on hunger strike for over 40 days, has been returned to prison "without any medical intervention", her husband said on Wednesday.

"This evening, after 5 days of confinement in Taleghani hospital [in Tehran], Nasrin was returned to prison in the worst of physical conditions without any medical intervention," Reza Khandan tweeted.

"This act has no meaning other putting her life in danger."

Sotoudeh, 57, who announced she was going on hunger strike last month to demand the release of political prisoners and focus attention on their plight due to the Covid-19 pandemic, had been hospitalised after being "severely weakened", Khandan said on Saturday.

On Wednesday, he told AFP that his wife "has just told me by phone that the authorities quarantined her... in a bare unit as soon as she returned to prison."

"Because of her heart problems, I expected them to at least refer her to the prison clinic, especially after 44 days on hunger strike," he added.

Sotoudeh, co-laureate of the European Parliament's prestigious Sakharov prize in 2012, is serving a 12-year sentence imposed last year, after she defended women arrested for protesting compulsory headscarf laws.

Read also: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe files harassment claim against Iran's Revolutionary Guards

On 11 August she and Khandan announced her hunger strike on social media, describing the conditions faced by political prisoners detained on "unbelievable" charges as impossible to tolerate, especially since they were offered no legal hope of release as the pandemic engulfs Iran.

The virus has so far killed at least 24,840 Iranians and infected 432,798, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

Sotoudeh has been held at Tehran's Evin prison, where Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah is in custody.

Khandan told AFP on Saturday that the prison had "not even told us" of his wife's hospitalisation, of which the family were notified by one of her fellow inmates.

She had been transferred to the cardiac care unit shortly after being taken to the emergency ward of Taleghani hospital, Khandan had said.

"We were allowed to see her for a few moments," he said.

"She was severely weakened, lost a lot of weight and had sunken eyes".

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