PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 13/059/2009
19 June 2009
UA 160/09 Arbitrary arrest/prisoner of conscience
IRAN Abdolfattah Soltani (m), lawyer, human rights defender
Lawyer and human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested on 16 June and his whereabouts are
unknown. The reasons for his arrest are not known but are likely to be in connection with the currents events
in Iran. Amnesty International believes that Abdolfattah Soltani is a prisoner of conscience and should be
released immediately and unconditionally.
Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested at his office in central Tehran, at around four in the afternoon, on 16 June
by four plain-clothed security officials. The officials, who did not have a search warrant; a summons or arrest
warrant, carried out a search of his office. They confiscated his files, his briefcase; his computers and his
mobile phone before taking him away.
Abdolfattah Soltani is a member of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), which Nobel Peace Prize
laureate, Shirin Ebadi and many other leading human rights activists founded in 2002. It was forcibly closed
in December 2008 shortly before the centre was to hold an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The CHRD, whose members continue to work under the
name of the centre, has three stated roles: reporting violations of human rights in Iran; providing free legal
representation to political prisoners; and supporting the families of political prisoners.
Abdolfattah Soltani wanted to stand for election to the Central Bar Association’s Board in 2008, but his
candidacy was rejected on grounds of “unsuitability”.
Abdolfattah was arrested in 2005 and spend 219 days in detention, of which 43 were in solitary confinement .
In 2006 he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for ‘disclosing confidential documents’, for which he
received a sentence of four years; and one year’s imprisonment for ‘propaganda against the system’. On 28
May 2007, he was acquitted of all charges brought against him since his arrest in July 2005. Since then he
has been banned from travelling outside Iran, including in order to collect awards in recognition of his human
In the days following the Iranian presidential election on 12 June, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took part
in marches and demonstrations across the country, condemning both the process and outcome of the election.
Most of the demonstrations have been non-violent but in some cases violence erupted, including stone
throwing and acts of arson. The police and security forces have used excessive force, including beating and
clubbing with truncheons, to control some of the demonstrations. Hundreds have been arrested during the
demonstrations against the outcome of the elections, although many may have been released.
Amnesty International has recorded at least 10 killings, of which eight have been confirmed by state media.
At least four students are currently unaccounted for following an attack on their dormitory in Tehran - the
authorities must urgently investigate their fate, and all reported killings.