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Jailed Iranian opposition lawyer on hunger strike

A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer has gone on a hunger strike to protest her detention in solitary confinement on suspicion of spreading propaganda against the ruling system, her husband said Wednesday.

Nasrin Sotoudeh told her husband in a phone call from Evin Prison, north of Iran's capital, that she began a hunger strike on Sept. 25, he said.

Sotoudeh's arrest last month could signal a widening of Iran's crackdown on the pro-reform opposition that took the streets in protest after the June 2009 presidential election.

She is believed to be one of the first lawyers to be jailed after representing several of the more than 100 activists and political figures tried on charges of fomenting the postelection unrest.

Opposition claims that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election through massive vote fraud ignited months of protest that presented Iran's hard-line leadership with its biggest challenge since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, said she told him that she was being held in solitary confinement in a phone conversation that lasted only a few seconds. When she added that she was being threatened, prison officials cut the call mid-sentence, Khandan told The Associated Press.

The lawyer was summoned by an official notice to Evin Prison last month and did not return home, he said.

The 45-year-old Sotoudeh is a close associate of Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, who has lived abroad since last year's elections.

In Iran's crackdown, more than 80 opposition figures have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to 15 years, while 10 others have been sentenced to death.