U.N. welcomes Iranian prisoner release

Sept. 20, 2013 at 9:55 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The United Nations welcomes Iran's decision to free Sakharov Prize-winner Nasrin Sotoudeh and 11 other political prisoners, a human rights official said.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, said Friday the Iranian decision was a step in the right direction.

"Activists like Nasrin Sotoudeh can make a major contribution to improving the protection of human rights in Iran, and we urge the government to build on this positive step by creating space for human rights defenders," Colville said in a statement.

Soutodeh and Iranian lawyer, and film director Jafar Panahi were awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights last year.

In October, members of the European Parliament canceled a trip to Iran after its government refused to let them meet the jailed dissidents.

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