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FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
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Iran's Sotoudeh says will continue defending rights
Agence France Presse
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani speaks during an interview with state television at the presidency in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. Iran's president said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic can strike a "win-win" deal with world powers over its nuclear program, but that time is limited to reach an agreement. (AP Photo/Presidency Office, Rouzbeh Jadidoleslam)
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani speaks during an interview with state television at the presidency in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. Iran's president said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic can strike a "win-win" deal with world powers over its nuclear program, but that time is limited to reach an agreement. (AP Photo/Presidency Office, Rouzbeh Jadidoleslam)
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TEHRAN: Prominent Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh told AFP on Wednesday she was in "good" condition after three years in prison, and that she would continue defending human rights.

"Psychologically, my condition is very good but my experience -- with all the psychological pressure, the tense security atmosphere (at the prison), and not having access to phone calls among other things -- was very tough," an energetic Sotoudeh told AFP by phone from her home.

She added that her physical condition was also "good", despite going on hunger strike nearly 11 months ago in protest against the conditions of her imprisonment.

Her release came a week before Iran's new moderate President Hassan Rowhani, who has promised more freedoms at home and constructive engagement with the world, travels to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Sotoudeh, imprisoned since 2010 for her human rights work, had been temporarily released in January in the face of calls from the United Nations, the European Union and main international human rights groups for her release.

On Wednesday, she sounded certain that this time her release was permanent.

"The officer who drove me home said I was permanently released, I don't have to return to prison," she said.

When asked if she would continue defending human rights, she said: "Definitely. I have permission to work and I will continue."

The mother of two young children had been serving an 11-year prison sentence for defending political prisoners and aiding Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi.

Sotoudeh staged a hunger strike for 49 days in late 2012 to protest against her conditions in Tehran's Evin prison, limits placed on family visits and official harassment of her relatives.

Her husband and then 12-year-old daughter were slapped with a travel ban, among other punishments.

Last year, Sotoudeh won the European parliament's prestigious Sakharov prize for her human rights work.

Iranian media reported that in addition to Sotoudeh, 13 other political prisoners rounded up for involvement in 2009 anti-government protests had been released.

Among them were ex-deputy foreign minister Mohsen Aminzadeh, reformist politician Feyzollah Arabsorkhi and reformist journalist Mahsa Amirabadi.

AFP could not confirm those reports.

They had been rounded up for alleged involvement in protests sparked by the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

 
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