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Jailed Iranian rights lawyer Sotoudeh temporarily freed

Jan. 17, 2013 7:40 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 17, 2013 7:40 P.M.)
DUBAI (Reuters) -- Jailed Iranian lawyer and rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh was temporarily freed on Thursday for three days after more than two years in prison, her husband and an opposition news website said.

Sotoudeh has been serving a six-year prison sentence after being arrested in September 2010 and convicted of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security.

Reza Khandan, Sotoudeh's husband, wrote on his Facebook profile on Thursday evening that she had been granted the furlough.

Opposition website Kalame also reported the news of Sotoudeh's release: "Human rights activist and lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh ... was released for three days after more than two years and four months in prison."

Iranian authorities did not say why Sotoudeh was freed. But Iran's judiciary sometimes grants furloughs to prisoners convicted of non-violent crimes, especially for national holidays.

Sotoudeh had defended journalists and rights activists including Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi. She also represented Zahra Bahrami, a woman with dual Iranian and Dutch nationality who was hanged in January 2011 on drug trafficking charges.

Last year, Sotoudeh held a hunger strike for nearly 50 days to protest at authorities' treatment of her young daughter.

The European Union in October awarded Sotoudeh and Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi with its Sakharov Prize in recognition of their courage defending fundamental liberties
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