The husband of an Iranian lawyer who was released from jail last month for poor health said authorities sent her back to jail on Wednesday even though doctors were determined to visit a heart clinic this week and otherwise stay home to do so recover from various health problems.
In a Wednesday interview with VOA Persian from her home in Tehran, Reza Khandan said his wife Nasrin Sotoudeh received a call earlier in the day from Qarchak prison in the southeastern capital asking her to report to the prison immediately. He said she went to jail later Wednesday and abruptly ended a vacation the authorities granted her on November 7 to recover from breathing and heart problems related to her recent hunger strikes in detention.
FILE – In this photo, first published online on February 8, 2019 by Iranian dervish news broadcaster Majzooban Noor, smoke appears to be rising from the Qarchak women’s prison near Tehran.
Sotoudeh has been jailed since June 2018 for her legal work in defense of women’s rights activists arrested for publicly removing their hijabs against Iran’s Islamist laws. Human rights activists have stated that Sotoudeh is serving a term of more than 30 years and must complete 12 years before being eligible for parole.
Khandan told VOA that Iranian authorities, who had ended his wife’s vacation, were ignoring a group of government doctors who met with her on Monday, reviewing her medical records, and finding that she needed more time to resolve various health issues .
He said a heart specialist advised Sotoudeh at the meeting to arrange a visit to the Tehran Heart Center for a CT coronary angiogram in the coming days. The imaging test examines the arteries that supply blood to the heart to help diagnose the cause of chest pain or other symptoms.
Khandan said an infectious disease specialist at the meeting also told Sotoudeh that she would have to quarantine and wear a mask at home for two more weeks if she left her room while she recovered from a recent coronavirus infection.
VOA was unable to independently review the recommendations of Sotoudeh government doctors as reporting is prohibited in Iran.
COVID, hunger strike
Sotoudeh’s husband previously said she tested positive for the coronavirus a few days after her temporary release from Qarchak on November 7. At the time, her health had been weakened by a 45-day hunger strike she held from August to September to protest Iran’s refusal to release political prisoners despite the risk of exposure to coronavirus in prison.
Sotoudeh started the hunger strike, her second that year, at Evin Prison in Tehran, where she was detained from June 2018 until she was transferred to Qarchak on October 20. Towards the end of her last hunger strike in late September, Iranian state media said authorities had sent her to Tehran’s Taleghani Hospital for emergency treatment for five days before returning to Evin.
In her most recent international award, Sotoudeh received an award from the Right Livelihood Foundation, a Stockholm-based charity, in a virtual ceremony on Thursday.
The foundation, which was established in 1980 to “honor and support courageous people in solving global problems”, awards several winners each year with prizes that international legal activists call the “Alternative Nobel Prize”.
In a voice recording made from her home in Tehran last week and broadcast during Thursday’s ceremony, Sotoudeh described her award as a tremendous honor.
“Under these difficult conditions [the award] has given me and my family new energy to continue on my path, ”said Sotoudeh. “While I am deeply grateful for the honor, I would also like to draw your attention to the plight of all political prisoners in Iran and ask you to join us to ensure their health and freedom.”
This article comes from the Persian Service from VOA. Click here for the original Persian version of the story.