Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, a lawyer at the Bar of Tehran and a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), has been targeted and harassed on several occasions for his human rights advocacy.
On July 30, 2005, Soltani was arrested while holding a sit-in at the building of Tehran’s Bar Association to protest a warrant for his arrest, along with a search warrant for his home, both issued on July 27, 2005 by the Chief Prosecutor for Tehran, Saeed Mortazavi. Soltani was accused of releasing “classified national intelligence” alongside allegations of disclosing information in a nuclear espionage case in which he was a defence counsel. He was unlawfully detained without formal charges for 226 days in Tehran’s Evin prison.
While in prison, Soltani was held in solitary confinement for almost two months, was interrogated on numerous occasions without the presence of a lawyer and was denied access to his own file, a clear violation of Article 190 of the Iranian Criminal Code. On March 5, 2006, Soltani was finally released after eight months in prison after posting an exorbitant bail of 100,000 euros, thanks to a national and international movement of solidarity.
On July 16, 2006, Soltani was informed that the Revolutionary Court had sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment and the loss of his civic rights for “non-respect of the confidentiality of the preliminary enquiry,” in a trial in which Mr. Soltani appeared for the family of slain Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who was murdered in Evin Prison in July 2003, during which he had questioned the independence of justice.
Although Soltani was acquitted on May 28, 2007 of all charges pending against him since July 2005, Iranian authorities seized his identity documents (i.e. passport and family record book), preventing him from exercising his freedom of movement, in violation of Article 12.2 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
On July 16, 2009, Soltani was handcuffed and arrested in front of his home by four plainclothes persons. No arrest warrant was issued and no reason for the arrest was stated. Soltani was taken and held in incommunicado detention at an unknown location.
On June 18, 2009, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) wrote to the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran requesting that Soltani physical and psychological integrity be guaranteed, including access to a lawyer, adequate and safe living conditions and treatment. The letter also requested that Soltani’s whereabouts be made public and that he be released immediately and unconditionally. Lastly, LRWC requested that acts of persistent harassment, including judicial and prosecutorial harassment, against Soltani and all human rights defenders in Iran, be stopped.
In early July 2009, LRWC became aware that Soltani had been located in section 209 of Evin Prison, where political prisoners are detained. On July 20, 2009, LRWC wrote the Islamic Republic of Iran reiterating the requests made in its June 18, 2009 letter. LRWC wrote a subsequent follow up on August 4, 2009 urging the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to its previous request that the government outline the actions it will take to remedy past and prevent future violations of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani’s rights and security.
On August 26, 2009, following the decision of the Security Branch of the Revolutionary Courts, Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani was released on payment of USD 100,000, following 70 days of arbitrary detention, including 17 days in solitary confinement without access to a shower.
However, Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani remains accused of having acted against national security and no information could be obtained as to when he will be prosecuted.
Letter written August 11, 2005 by Gail Davidson
Letter written November 4, 2005 by Gail Davidson
Letter written June 18, 2009 by Tina Parbhakar
Letter written July 20, 2009 by Jessica Fletcher
Letter written August 4, 2009 by Hugh Gwillim