Jailed Iranian Rights Lawyer Starts Hunger Strike

A prominent human rights lawyer in Iran says she has started a hunger strike while in jail on accusations of antigovernment activities.

The hunger strike by Nasrin Sotoudeh was announced on August 25 on the Facebook page of her husband, Reza Khandan.

The Facebook posts said the move was motivated by authorities' pressure on Sotoudeh's relatives and friends, as well as a failure by officials to respond to her requests.

Authorities arrested Sotoudeh, 55, in June to serve a five-year sentence issued against her in absentia in September 2016 for allegedly carrying out "activities against national security in collaboration with domestic and foreign antirevolutionary elements," according to Human Rights Watch.

International rights groups and the U.S. government have denounced the arrest of the lawyer, who earlier in 2018 represented several women detained for publicly protesting the compulsory hijab.

Sotoudeh's lawyer said earlier this month that she has also been accused of espionage on top of the other charges.

Sotoudeh -- the co-winner of the European Parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought -- has denied all charges against her.

As outspoken critic of the Iranian establishment, Sotoudeh has previously spent several years in prison on security charges, including acting against Iran's national security.

She has defended journalists, rights activists, and juveniles.

With reporting by dpa, AFP, and IRNA