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Appeal by the The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders on behalf of Iranian lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani




New information

IRN 002 / 0705 / OBS 055.2

Arbitrary detention


December 12, 2005


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Iran.


New information:
The Observatory has been informed by the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (Ligue iranienne de défense des droits de l'Homme - LDDHI) of new developments in the case against Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, a lawyer at the Bar of Tehran and a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC), who is currently detained incommunicado at the Evin prison, in Tehran.



According to the information received, the investigating judge in the case against Mr. Soltani - who had recently expressed to the lawyers of the latter his will to recommend his release on bail - was replaced by another judge, who decided on December 3, 2005 that Mr. Soltani should remain in preliminary detention for a period of three additional months.


The decision to replace the investigating judge was taken by Tehran Prosecutor, Mr. Saïd Mortazavi, who had himself issued the arrest warrant against Mr. Soltani on July 27, 2005 (see background information).


The Observatory fears that the appointment of this new investigating judge be a manoeuvre on the part of Prosecutor Mortazavi to ensure that Mr. Soltani will remain in prison. The role of Prosecutor Mortazavi in the death of Ms. Zahra Kazermi was indeed questioned by Mr. Soltani a few days before his arrest, and the Observatory believes that his current detention is actually linked to those declarations (see background information).


Background information:


Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested on July 30, 2005, while taking part in a sit-in at the Bar of Tehran in order to protest against an arrest warrant issued against him by Mr. Saïd Mortazavi on July 27, 2005. Mr. Soltani was accused of "espionage", without any other precisions.


Mr. Soltani's arrest took place while Ms. Zahra Kazemi's case was brought before Tehran Court of Appeal to establish the circumstances of her death and the responsible parties[1]. On July 25, 2005, during a hearing in camera of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Soltani, lawyer of Ms. Zahra Kazemi's family, put into question the independence and fairness of the trial, pointing out that the main officials allegedly involved in the case had not been indicted by the court, including Mr. Saïd Mortazavi (in October 2003, the Article 90 Commission of the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) released its report of enquiry into Ms. Kazemi's death, which concluded that Prosecutor Mortazavi and other members of the judiciary were directly involved in her death, as a result of violent interrogation in Evin prison).


In July 2002, Mr. Soltani had already been convicted for having underlined in his defence pleadings the fact that his clients had been subjected to ill-treatment during their interrogation. He was sentenced to four months in jail by the Court of Tehran and released in June 2003 (See Observatory Annual Report 2003).


Actions requested:


Please write to the Iranian authorities and ask them to:


i.     guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani;


ii.     release him immediately and ensure that ensure that Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani be granted a fair and impartial trial so that all charges against him be dropped, as they are arbitrary;


iii.    conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular its article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", its article 9.3(c), which provides that everyone has the right "to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms", and its article 12.2, which provides that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";


iv.    ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Iran.




- Leader of the Islamic Republic, His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 649 5880 / 21 774 2228 (ask fax to be forwarded to Ayatollah Khamenei), Email: (on the subject line write: For the attention of the office of His Excellency, Ayatollah al Udhma Khamenei, Qom)


- President Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Presidency, Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: + 98 21 649 5880


- Head of the Judiciary, His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Fax: +98 21 879 6671, Email:


- Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Manouchehr Mottaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdolmajid Keshk-e Mesri Av, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Faxes: + 98 21 390 1999 (number may be unreliable; please mark "care of the Human Rights Department, Foreign Ministry"), Email:


- Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 7330203, Email:



Paris - Geneva, December 12, 2005


Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.


The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.


The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.


To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:


Tel and fax FIDH: 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 01 43 55 18 80

Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29


International Federation for Human Rights

17, Passage de la Main d'Or

75 011 Paris, France

World Organisation Against Torture

Case postale 21 - 8 rue du Vieux-Billard

 1211 Geneve 8, Switzerland


[1] Ms. Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian photographer, died in July 2003 from torture and ill-treatment during her detention in Iranian custody.

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