In recent days five lawyers have been arrested in Tehran. Only three of the arrested lawyers have been identified so far.  Maryam Kian Ersi, Sara Sabbaghian, and Maryam Karbasi were arrested at Imam Khomeini International Airport upon their return from a trip to Turkey on Wednesday, 10 November.

One day later, Tehran’s Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi confirmed the arrest of three female lawyers at Imam Khomeini Airport, adding that they had been transferred to Ward 209 of Evin Prison. Dolatabadi further announced the arrest of two other lawyers without mentioning their names or where they are being detained. He said the five lawyers were charged with “committing security crimes,” and “actions committed abroad which are inconsistent with the values of Islamic Republic of Iran,” claiming that these individuals were arrested on orders from the Security Branch of the Shahid Moghaddas Judicial Complex.

Iranians lawyers have not yet speculated about the identity of their two unidentified colleagues, their names remaining unknown.  The reason for the three lawyers’ travel to Turkey is also unknown. Of the three lawyers whose identities are known, Sara Sabaghian is a member of the Iranian Bar Association’s Committee for the Defence of Women and Children’s Rights. She was previously arrested along with a number of other lawyers on 8 July 2009, as forces attempted to arrest Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer who represented student activist Majid Tavakoli. She is also one of the lawyers representing Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a blogger known as Babak Khorramdin. Maryam Kian Ersi represents a woman sentenced to stoning, Kobra Najjar.

One day before the arrests of the lawyers, Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary, criticized lawyers who sat for interviews with foreign media calling their actions “an insult to the legal society.”

Many Iranian human rights lawyers, including Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mohammad Oliaifard, have been in prison for months.  Mohammad Seifzadeh, another prominent lawyer and founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center, was recently sentenced to nine years in prison. Mohammad Ali Dadkhh, Abdolfattah Soltani, and Khalil Bahramian also have open cases with the Iranian Judiciary.