TEHRAN, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Iran released several political prisoners, including human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, in advance of President Hassan Rouhani's visit to the United Nations.
Sotoudeh, 45, a 2012 winner of the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, was driven from a Tehran prison to her home elsewhere in the capital, and told she did not need to return to jail, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Wednesday.
The release of Sotoudeh, and seven other women and four men, all political prisoners comes prior to Rouhani's visit to New York for the U,N. General Assembly, and is thus far the most tangible sign of change in Iran under his moderate administration, The Guardian said.
"News of the release ... is a welcome development, but the burden is on Tehran to prove that this is more than a symbolic gesture," commented Faraz Sanei of Human Rights Watch, a humanitarian organization based in New York.