Iranian authorities freed attorney and human rights defender Nasrin Sotudeh on Wednesday along with a number of opposition activists arrested in 2009, the Iranian state-run student news agency Isna reported.

Sotudeh has been imprisoned since September 2010 and was serving a six-year sentence for using her position as an attorney to damage national security by representing opposition members after the fraud accusations and protests that followed the 2009 presidential elections.

The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, hailed the release of Sotudeh, who received the parliament's 2012 Sakharov Prize.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International on Wednesday called the release of Sotudeh, a collaborator of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, and the other activists a "first step."

"While the releases are a positive development, they must be a first step that paves the way for the release of all prisoners of conscience held solely because they peacefully exercised their rights," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the London-based Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director. EFE