Letter from Prison

Nasrin Sotoudeh’s Letter from Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward

“In the midst of the coronavirus crisis engulfing Iran and the world, the situation facing political prisoners has become so difficult that their continued incarceration under these tyrannical conditions has become impossible.

“Political [activists] have been accused of unbelievable acts: espionage, corruption on earth, undermining national security, prostitution, forming illegal channels on Telegram [the messaging app] which can keep them behind bars for up to 10 years or even lead to execution.

“From the very start of the judicial process all the way through to sentencing, many suspects are denied independent legal representation or prevented from unrestrained consultation with their lawyers.

“Revolutionary Court judges have repeatedly and unabashedly told political prisoners that verdicts are issued only on the basis of reports prepared by intelligence and security agencies and interrogators spell out in advance the sentences awaiting suspects.

“Lawyers who challenge Revolutionary Court judges are sent to prison. Political suspects, charged with serious, unimaginable acts, are given maximum punishments – in some cases more severe than in the law – and then they wait, hoping for a legal solution under these unjust conditions.

“[The law] promises defendants an appellate process during which they are conditionally released, punishment is suspended and verdicts are not enforced until the Appeals Court makes a ruling, while punishments are supposed to be kept to a minimum in accordance to a new law. Instead the authorities resort to unlawful methods and bow to the opinions of interrogators, thus blocking the last [legal] avenues on political prisoners.

“Many prisoners are currently eligible for conditional release and many of them will be freed with the enforcement of a new law. [Editor’s note: In February 2020, due to the coronavirus threat, those who had been sentenced up to five years in prison and served a third of their term were pardoned.] However, prisoners are being treated as if there is no such law or legal recourse, while the authorities refuse to respond to any communications requesting legal steps [for prisoners’ release].

“Given the lack of any response to communications and requests for the freedom of political prisoners, I am starting a hunger strike.

“With the hope that one day justice may prevail in my homeland; the land of Iran.”

— Evin [Prison], Nasrin Sotoudeh