News24

Iranian lawyer ends hunger strike

2012-12-05 14:13

Tehran - A prominent jailed Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, has ended a hunger strike in Tehran's notorious Evin prison after 49 days, according to an official on Wednesday.

"Sotoudeh's hunger strike has ended after an intervention by heads of the judiciary and parliament," Mohammad Reza Tabesh told the ISNA news agency.

An opposition website reported earlier that Sotoudeh, 47, ended her protest on Tuesday after Tabesh and another official took steps to have authorities lift restrictions and harassment directed at her family.

A Facebook page dedicated to her plight, with more than 50 000 followers, hailed the news but warned that the internationally recognised Sotoudeh now needed urgent medical care outside the prison.

Detained since August 2010, Sotoudeh is serving an 11-year prison sentence for defending political prisoners and aiding the human rights work of Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi.

The official charge against her is "conspiring against state security".

This year, Sotoudeh won the European parliament's prestigious Sakharov rights prize.

The mother of two young children began her hunger strike on 17 October to protest against her conditions in Evin prison, limits placed on family visits and official harassment of her relatives.

Her husband and 12-year-old daughter were slapped with a travel ban, among other punishment.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Tuesday she was "extremely concerned" about Sotoudeh, and called for her prompt release as well as the lifting of sanctions on her family.

The UN, the European Union and the world's main international human rights groups have often called for Sotoudeh to be freed, calling her a prisoner of conscience.

Tabesh said he believed the news of Sotoudeh ending her protest would now "alleviate pressure by international bodies against Iran".