The president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York has written an open letter calling upon Iran to reaffirm the rights of Iranian lawyers to practice their profession without governmental interference and to release prominent defense attorney Abdolfattah Soltani.
Soltani (pictured left) has been in prison since he was arrested on Sept. 11, 2011. He was the senior member of a legal team representing prisoners accused of threatening national security by teaching academic subjects such as biology and architecture to Baha’i youth who were not allowed to go to college due to their beliefs.
Soltani is not a Baha’i, but he has defended Baha’is and other human rights cases in Iran. He was also incarcerated in 2006 and 2009. Soltani was one of four lawyers, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, to establish the Defenders of Human Rights Center.
The New York City Bar Association’s president, Samuel W. Seymour, wrote the letter to Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s representative to the United Nations, in February on behalf of the independent professional organization’s 23,000 members from New York and around the world.
The letter noted that, as of September of 2011, some 42 attorneys had faced government prosecution since 2009, according to a report from the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the situation of the Human Rights in Iran.