Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, lawyer at the Bar of Tehran and a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), who has been detained in solitary confinement, incommunicado, since July 30, 2005, at the prison of Evin, Tehran.
Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested while he was taking part in a sit-in at the Bar of Tehran in order to protest against an arrest warrant issued three days prior to the sit in. Mr. Soltani was also protesting the search & seizure of his personal & professional belongings issued by Mr. Saïd Mortazavi, Tehran Prosecutor. It is believed that Mr. Mortazavi’s only objective is to prevent Mr. Soltani’s from carrying out his activities as a lawyer and human right defender. Mr. Mortazavi is also believed to be directly linked to the torture & ill treatment resulting in the death of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian Canadian photographer killed in an Iranian jail in July 2003s.
The Observatory and the LDDHI believe that Mr. Soltani’s arrest is linked to the role he played in Ms. Zahra Kazemi’s trial, which was brought before Tehran Court of Appeal to establish the circumstances of her death and the responsible parties. On July 25, 2005, during a hearing in camera of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Soltani, lawyer of Ms. Zahra Kazemi’s family, put into question the independence and fairness of the trial, pointing out that the main officials allegedly involved in the case had not been indicted by the court, including Mr. Saïd Mortazavi.
In his recent arrest on July 30th, 2005, Mr. Soltani was accused of “espionage”, without any other precisions. Since the beginning of his detention, he has been denied the right to have access to a lawyer and to receive visits from his family.
The Observatory and the LDDHI are deeply concerned about Mr. Soltani’s arbitrary detention, which is part of a general repressive movement against human rights lawyers by Iranian authorities.
Moreover, in July 2002, Mr. Soltani had already been convicted for having underlined in his defence pleadings the fact that his clients had been subjected to ill-treatment during their interrogation. He was sentenced to four months in jail by the Court of Tehran and released in June 2003 (See Observatory Annual Report 2003).
The Observatory and the LDDHI consider that the detention of Mr. Soltani blatantly violates the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, in particular article 1 & article 9.3(c). Because detained in solitary confinement, the Observatory and the LDDHI fear that Mr. Soltani faces increased risks of being subject to ill-treatment and acts of torture.
Moreover, on the same day, July 30th, 2005, Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and Secretary General of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, received a message twice on her answering machine, stating that “We have Soltani, you are next”.
Along with the other lawyers who are members of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, Mrs. Ebadi is subjected to acts of harassment from ultra conservatives, including Mr. Saïd Mortazavi.
Two letters by Gail Davidson sent on August 11, and October 4, 2005