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Responding to the arrest in Iran this morning of Reza Khandan, the husband of prominent jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said:

“First the authorities jail Nasrin Sotoudeh on bogus charges, then harass, intimidate and threaten her family and friends, and now arrest her husband. These callous actions illustrate the lengths to which Iranian authorities will go to silence human rights lawyers, even targeting their families.

“The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release both Nasrin Sotoudeh and Reza Khandan. They must drop all charges against them and stop their harassment of this family once and for all.

“The international community, including the EU given its ongoing dialogue with Iran, must condemn in the strongest terms the arbitrary arrest and detention of both Reza Khandan and Nasrin Sotoudeh, and do everything in their power to expedite the release of these two human rights defenders.”

Background

Prior to his arrest, Reza Khandan had raised concerns on Facebook about human rights violations in Iran, including the imprisonment of human rights defenders and the prosecution of women who have campaigned against forced veiling (hijab).

Reza Khandan has publicly campaigned for the release of his wife, Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyers, who was arrested on June 13. She is currently being held in Tehran’s Evin prison, charged with several national security offences, including “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “spreading propaganda against the system”.

The charges against her stem from her work defending women who have been prosecuted for peacefully protesting against the abusive, discriminatory and degrading practice of forced veiling (hijab). She started a hunger strike on August 25 in protest at her unjust detention and the Iranian authorities’ harassment of her family and friends.