Ashton: Iran should release all political captives

16.09.2011 - 12:15

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton has called on Iran to release all political captives, as the country “is in breach of the international obligations that Iran has itself signed up to”.

Ashton criticised the country's persecution of human-rights lawyers and activists, including Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is now serving an 11-year prison sentence. Despite the EU expressing concerns over her case, Iran continued its policy and arrested the prominent human rights defender Abdolfattah Soltani, as well as Nasrin Sotoudeh’s own lawyer.

“This illustrates the erosion of political and civil freedoms in Iran and is indicative of the increasingly difficult conditions for human rights activists in Iran,” Ashton said.

However, she welcomed the release of Dr. Arash Alaei, an AIDS physician, who was inprisoned in 2008, in connection with the end of Ramadam pardon. “But I remain worried that, despite the overall release of 1,200 prisoners, many  are still detained on grounds which appear above all to be political,” Ashton added.