Reza Khandan, the husband of the imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, was arrested at his home on the morning of September 4 by Intelligence Ministry agents. Prior to the arrest, he had reported on his Facebook page that he had been threatened with arrest: “Today a person called me on my mobile and said that he was from the Intelligence Ministry. He said that I must go there the following day. I reminded him that nobody and no agency, except a judicial authority, can prosecute individuals — and then only in writing and by specifying the reasons and the charges. Unfortunately, in answer to my protest, he said: ‘Then you’ll be arrested.’”
Both Nasrin Sotoudeh and Reza Khandan have repeatedly protested against illegal arrests.
“Unfortunately, the accused do not know their rights,” he had told IranWire earlier. “For example, if they tell the accused: ‘Get up! You must go to the court,’ he puts his clothes on and gets going, whereas he must receive a written summons and, legally, has five days to present himself at the court. In protest against this, Nasrin refused to go to the court until they served her with a written summons and then she went to the court on the last day of the deadline.”
Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested on June 13 and she has been on a hunger strike since August 25. Throughout this time, Reza Khandan has provided the public with information about her situation in prison. Now he too is behind bars. “He has been charged with collusion against national security, propaganda against the regime and promoting [women] to remove the hijab because of this,” a friend of Khandan told IranWire.
Badges as Crime Evidence
The friend’s guess is that the anti-hijab charge has been levelled against Khandan because they had found badges declaring “I am against forced hijab” at his home — bearing similarity to the recent arrest of another activist, Dr Farhad Meysami. On August 18, Intelligence Ministry agents raided the homes of Reza Khandan and a number of other civil rights activists in search of these badges, which had messages against compulsory hijabs printed on them. Meysami had distributed the badges to friends, and is now in Evin Prison. He has been on a hunger strike since August 1. Khandan is a close friend of Meysami and had talked about his situation to IranWire and other media.
Nasrin Sotoudeh started her hunger strike as a protest against authorities’ harassment of people with links to her. "I see no other option but to start a hunger strike from August 23,” she wrote in a note that was posted on her husband’s Facebook page. “It is the only way I can express my protest against the continued pressure on my family and friends.”
“Not only our apartment — but also my sister's home — were illegally raided,” Khandan told Deutsche Welle. “The authorities have found a few badges with slogans like, 'I am against the forced hijab'. They are trying to use these badges as evidence to substantiate their accusations.”
It’s not the first time that Khandan has been arrested. In January 2011, when Sotoudeh was in prison, he filed a complaint over her treatment in jail. For this complaint, he was summoned to the prosecutor’s office and accused of “spreading lies.” On June 16, Khandan and other civil rights activists were detained for several hours after they gathered outside Evin Prison to protest against the arrest of Nasrin Sotoudeh.
“Branch 7 of Evin Court has set a bail of 700 million tomans [just under $170,000] for Reza Khandan,” an informed source told IranWire.
The amount of bail is very close to the bail set for Nasrin Sotoudeh when she was arrested. “The very first day they told Nasrin to post a bail of 650 million tomans [close to $155,000] so they would release her temporarily,” Khandan told IranWire at the time. “’I have done nothing, I cannot afford the bail and I refuse to post bail,’ she [Sotoudeh] told them. They told her to write down what she had said. She refused to do that as well. Then they told her to write down her objections. ‘I do have objections but I will not write them down,’ she said. ‘I have not done anything. Either release me or put me under arrest. I am now here. Do with me what you will.’”
Nasrin Sotoudeh was the defense attorney for the “Revolution Women” and was arrested following a complaint by the judge handling the case of Shaparak Shajarizadeh in the city of Kashan. Shajarizadeh, Sotoudeh’s client, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
The Revolution Women movement, which hit the headlines earlier this year, was led by young Iranian women who took off their headscarves in public in solo protests against the Islamic Republic's rules on compulsory hijab. On February 26, Shaparak Shajarizadeh stood on a traffic island in the Iranian capital Tehran and waved her white headscarf held on the end of a stick out in front of her. Shortly afterward she was arrested and, according to her, was beaten during the week that she was forced to spend in a detention center.
Charges Keep Coming
Afterward, however, the authorities said that Sotoudeh had been arrested and would serve a five-year prison sentence that she had received in absentia in 2016. But every time her lawyers inquired about her case or Reza Khandan visited her, new charges against her have been added.
On August 15, her lawyer Payam Darafshan announced that Sotoudeh had been charged with espionage. “One of the accusations in the 2016 case against Nasrin was her meetings with foreign diplomats,” Khandan told IranWire at the time. “In the indictment there were many accusations but all of them were categorized under ‘propaganda against the regime’ and ‘gathering and conspiracy against national security.’ But now the court has set aside these charges and has cited Article 510 of the Islamic Penal Code to charge her with helping spies.”
And on August 27, Khandan told Radio Farda that new charges had been added to her case: “encouraging people to demand a referendum,” “helping to launch home churches,” “attempts to hold protest sit-ins and assemblies,” and “participation in anti-death penalty campaigns.”
In 2011, Sotoudeh was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges including “activities against national security" and "propaganda against the regime." She was also barred from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years. The appeals court reduced the prison sentence to six year and the bans to 10 years.
Sotoudeh was released in 2013 after serving three years of her sentence but since then she has been repeatedly threatened and arrested.
More on the persecution of Nasrin Sotoudeh and Reza Khandan:
Human Rights Lawyer Charged With Assisting Spies, August 16, 2018
Protesters Demand Release of Human Rights Lawyer, June 17, 2018
The Regime’s Tactics Against Iran’s “Revolution Women”, February 26, 2018
Nasrin Sotoudeh: “Preventive Arrest” is Illegal, January 8, 2018
Faezeh Hashemi and Nasrin Sotoudeh Visit Baha’i Prisoner, May 13, 2016
“The Security Forces are Trying to Ruin us Financially”, September 24, 2015
50 Iranian Women you Should Know: Nasrin Sotoudeh, September 9, 2015
Nasrin Sotoudeh and Supporters Defiant as Guards Break up Protest, February 2, 2015
Iran Re-arrests Leading Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, October 28, 2014
Award-Winning Human Rights Lawyer Barred for Three Years, October 20, 2014
Nasrin Sotoudeh, My Lawyer, September 19, 2013
Prisoners Release in Iran: Window Dressing, or Real Change?, September 19, 2013