The Iranian government finally released eleven political prisoners, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
The release took place just days ahead of a visit by Iran’s newly elected moderate president Rouhani to the United Nations in New York.
Rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh was one of eight women and three men released on Wednesday.
Ms. Sotoudeh had been reportedly held since 2010 for charges of defending political activists and journalists, and disclosure of the execution of juveniles In Iran.
Ms. Sotoudeh was 2012 Sakharov Prize winner who has been on a hunger strike for almost two months in 2012.
US Welcomes the release of prisoners of conscience
In a press statement in Washington DC, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf the US welcomes reports that the Iranian Government has released several prisoners of conscience.
Ms. Harf highlighted that President Rouhani pledged repeatedly during his campaign to restore and expand freedoms for all Iranians, and called for expanded political and social freedoms, including freedom of expression.
“In the months ahead, we hope he will continue to keep his promises to the Iranian people.” – Ms. Harf
She says the United States will continue to urge the Iranian Government to take steps to improve the country’s human rights situation.
In addition, Ms. Harf reiterates its call today for Iran to release all prisoners of conscience in its custody.
Iran Known For Restricting Freedom Of Expression
Reports say Iran has jailed 45 journalists since 2012.
The US is calling on the Iranian government to protect the right of media freedom for all its citizens.
At the US Virtual Embassy Tehran page, one can see Faces of Iran site that highlights citizens imprisoned for their religious or political beliefs.
The US has highlighted the case of Zhila Bani-Yaghoub from Iran where she was an editor of the “Focus on Iranian Women” website. She has been jailed one year at Evin Prison for articles she wrote during the 2009 presidential election.
Zhila Bani-Yaghoub was charged with “spreading propaganda against the system” and “insulting the president.”
She has also been banned from practicing journalism for 30 years.
Previously, she has been tried and acquitted on similar charges three times since 2009.