Nation & World News

Iran Frees Political Prisoners

By Scott Neuman on September 18th, 2013

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was among several political prisoners released by Tehran on Wednesday, just days ahead of a visit by Iran’s newly elected moderate president to the United Nations in New York.

Sotoudeh, who had been held since 2010, was one of eight women and three men released, according to the BBC. Reformist politician Mohsen Aminzadeh was also among the prisoners freed.

“I am free from prison today, and I am glad, but I am worried for my friends in prison,” Sotoudeh told CNN by telephone from Tehran, adding that she was “free forever,” not on temporary release, and planned to resume her legal career.

In January, Sotoudeh, 50, was temporarily released, but apparently detained again later. She first ran into trouble with Iranian authorities for defending political activists and journalists, and “highlighting the execution of juveniles in her country,” The Guardian reports.

Sotoudeh had gone on hunger strikes in 2010 and 2012 to protest the conditions of her detention.

Aminzadeh served under President Mohammad Khatami as deputy foreign minister from 1997-2005. Later, he headed the opposition coalition and was arrested amid protests in 2009 over alleged vote rigging by then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In July, Aminzadeh, who suffers from heart disease, was hospitalized.

Reuters says that former Deputy Minister of Commerce Feizollah Arabsorkhi was also released.

The news agency said the number of prisoners released on Wednesday was not immediately clear, but the BBC put the number at 11.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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