Human Rights Watch blasts Iran lawyer arrests
Associated Press / KATARINA KRATOVAC

Iranian authorities are spreading fear by arresting prominent human rights lawyers to prevent them from representing protesters detained in the aftermath of the country's disputed presidential election, a leading international rights group said.Human Rights Watch detailed several cases of arrests of lawyers in Iran and said others have been threatened and told not to talk to media — especially foreign outlets.The New York-based group released the statement on the clampdown Sunday, a day after global protests backed by HRW and Amnesty International that urged Iran to end the crackdown on opposition activists and release those detained.Joe Stork, deputy chief of HRW Mideast section, said Tehran seeks to "create an atmosphere of fear among all lawyers who agree to defend political prisoners.""Many reform supporters arrested after the presidential elections have been denied access to their lawyers, and now they're finding the lawyers imprisoned with them," Stork said in the statement.Since the June 12 vote, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have held protests denouncing the election as fraudulent until security forces launched a heavy crackdown, arresting hundreds and killing at least 20, according to police. Rights groups believe the number could be far greater.Protests have also been held world over in sympathy with the Iranian pro-opposition supporters, and Saturday saw rallies in 80 cities, including in the United States. The protesters demanded Iran... >>>

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