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Iran Nobel winner's rights call


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• Nobel winner refuses Iranian court
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Shirin Ebadi

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iranian Nobel peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi has called on the Iranian government to stop holding political prisoners in solitary confinement.

Her comments Monday came at the country's first human rights conference, where she also talked about her decision last week to refuse to appear before Iran's Revolutionary Court.

Ebadi, a well-known human rights defender and the winner of the 2003 Nobel peace prize, told reporters at a news conference said she did not appear before the court because her summons was illegal and because under Iranian law, only political and national security cases are referred to that court.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamidreza Asefi, Sunday told reporters that the Ebadi case was just a civil matter and would soon be resolved if she paid a small fine.

Ebadi's attorney told reporters that he believes she was summoned to court to prevent her from becoming a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections.

The Nobel laureate said she was not aware if the summons was meant to prevent her and the dissidents from holding their human rights conference.

Several members of Iranian opposition groups spoke at the human rights conference and described their treatment while they were in solitary confinement.

They said they were not physically tortured but were subjected to psychological torture, such as being kept in so-called "white rooms" -- cells that are painted totally in white -- for several days without much contact with the outside world.

Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.


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