“I welcome the fact that Iran has decided to release a number of political prisoners including human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh. I hope that the release of these prisoners is the first important step towards improving the human rights situation in Iran under President Rouhani,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.
On 18 September Iran released sixteen prisoners of conscience, including the well-known lawyer and human rights defender Nasrin Sotoudeh. Ms Soutodeh and several others of those released had been imprisoned in connection with the protests held following the re-election of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
“I have personally raised Ms Sotoudeh’s case with the Iranian authorities. Courageous activists like Ms Sotoudeh play a crucial role in defending human rights. It is vital that she is able to resume her legal practice and that the travel ban imposed on her is lifted,” Mr Eide said.
Norway has repeatedly raised the situation of political prisoners and human rights defenders in Iran with the Iranian authorities.
“The protection and promotion of human rights is one of the main pillars of Norwegian foreign policy, and providing support for human rights defenders is a key part of these efforts. Although the release of these prisoners in Iran is a welcome development, we must not forget that many prisoners of conscience remain in prison in Iran. Several of them are activists who have been working to improve the human rights situation in the country. Norway will continue to follow the human rights situation in Iran closely,” Mr Eide said.