Stricken civil rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh returned to Evin jail

The campaigner is more than six weeks into a hunger strike to protest against conditions in Iranian jails

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and her husband Reza Khandan. Amnesty International
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The family of jailed civil rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh say they have been kept in the dark over her return to prison following treatment in hospital for a serious heart condition.

Ms Sotoudeh – who is more than six weeks into a hunger strike – is believed to be back in the medical clinic at the notorious prison, her husband said.

The campaigner went on hunger strike on August 11 to demand the release of political prisoners at risk from Covid-19 in Iran’s prisons.

She was taken to hospital on Saturday because of heart and respiratory problems as well as low blood pressure, said Reza Khandan. She spent several days there before being removed by security forces.

“We were prevented from meeting with her and discussing her situation with her while she was in the hospital,” he told the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

“She is extremely weak due to her continued hunger strike. I suspect they have taken her to the Evin medical clinic given her dire situation.”

Ms Sotoudeh, 57, best-known for defending rights activists, women who remove the headscarf and opposition leaders, was arrested in 2018 and is serving a 38-year term on charges of collusion and propaganda against the regime.

Her plight has drawn global support with the UN, legal organisations and rights groups calling for her release. She will not be eligible for release after serving 12 years.

The charity’s executive director, Hadi Ghaemi, said he was deeply concerned about Ms Sotoudeh’s health because her family had not been told about the treatment she received.

“The secrecy and lack of accountability by Iranian authorities is outrageous and unlawful,” CHRI’s Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi said.

A report on the spread of coronavirus among Iran's prisoners published by Amnesty International in April revealed the regime "deliberately exposes them to the risk of infection in overcrowded prisons under poor hygienic conditions".

Thousands of prisoners have been granted temporary leave to help shield them from the virus, but many others have not been included.

Covid-19 has killed more than 24,000 Iranians with more than 400,000 infected, according to official figures.