Iran detains 3 lawyers representing activists

Iranian authorities have arrested three lawyers on their return home from abroad, local media reported Sunday.

The arrests appear to be the latest chapter in the crackdown by authorities on dissidents and activists since the disputed presidential election in June last year.

The reports were carried by six conservative and reformist Web sites on Sunday. Calls to authorities seeking confirmation of the arrests were not immediately returned.

The reports say authorities detained Maryam Kianersi, Maryam Karbasi and Sara Sabaghian on their return home from Turkey Saturday. All three are women.

The three were among signatories of an open letter in September that called for the release of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

Before her detention, Sotoudeh represented several of the 100 activists and political figures tried on charges of fomenting unrest following the June 2009 vote. She has been on a hunger strike since Sept. 25 and recently stopped drinking liquids to protest her detention in solitary confinement.

The three lawyers also were among the signatories of a statement in April voicing opposition to a draft law presented by the government to ease restrictions on polygamy. The draft law remains under review by parliament.

Sabaghian, one of the three arrested Saturday, has also represented Hossein Ronaghi, a blogger critical of the government who is serving a 15-year prison sentence. He has appealed the verdict.

Iran has arrested scores of lawyers, journalists and political activists after the 2009 election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a second term in office.

The opposition says he won the vote through widespread fraud.