Berlinale: Extras

Nasrin Sotoudeh sentenced in Iran

Nasrin Sotoudeh in Taxi by Jafar Panahi

The human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh, joint winner of the 2012 Sakharov Prize with Jafar Panahi, has been sentenced in Iran to 33 years in prison and 148 lashes. In Panahi’s film Taxi (winner of the 2015 Golden Bear), Sotoudeh plays herself: a lawyer banned from practising. She talks about interrogations, arrests and harassment of her clients. One of the things Sotoudeh campaigns against are women being forced to wear the hijab. She represents minors on death row, young women who demonstrated against the hijab laws and she advocates for the rights, among others, of the discriminated religious minority, the Bahá’í. The verdict, which was passed in Sotoudeh’s absence and without her knowledge, includes charges of “propaganda against the regime”, “inciting corruption and prostitution” and “spreading false news to manipulate public opinion”.

Nasrin Sotoudeh had already been sentenced to five years imprisonment in another trial, meaning she is facing a total of almost four decades in jail.

The statement from Amnesty International on Nasrin Sotoudeh says: “This is the harshest sentence Amnesty International has documented against a human rights defender in Iran in recent years, suggesting that the authorities – emboldened by pervasive impunity for human rights violations – are stepping up their repression.”

Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick is also shocked: “The inhuman sentence against Nasrin Sotoudeh has left us dismayed. The lawyer has boldly and bravely defended human rights in her homeland. The Berlinale thanks Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for his clear statement and calls on the federal government to continue to protest to the Iranian government against the sentence and to demand Sotoudeh’s release.”

We ask everyone to sign the Amnesty petition for the liberation of Sotoudeh: