France is concerned about the health of jailed Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is in hospital after going on a hunger strike for more than 40 days, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tuesday.

The fast is aimed at supporting calls for the release of political prisoners, and help direct attention towards their condition during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the lawyer's husband.

"We are very worried about Nasrin Sotoudeh's health," Le Drian told parliament, adding that she had been sentenced simply "for doing her job as a lawyer".

President Emmanuel Macron has urged Iranian authorities to release her at every opportunity, Le Drian said, adding that he was doing the same.

Sotoudeh has been sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison over a case with seven charges, but she is to serve only the longest sentence of 12 years imposed for "encouraging corruption and debauchery." She has also been convicted of espionage.

Sotoudeh's plight has been getting much attention in France
Sotoudeh's plight has been getting much attention in France AFP / FRANCOIS GUILLOT

Sotoudeh was transferred to a cardiac care unit shortly after being taken to the emergency ward of Tehran's Taleghani hospital last week.

Meanwhile, two French lawmakers met Iran's ambassador to France to lodge their protest, Le Parisien newspaper reported Tuesday.

Sotoudeh won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases including those of convicts on death row for offences committed as minors.

She spent three years in prison after representing dissidents arrested during mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of the ultra-conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Activists say Iranian authorities have been directly targeting Sotoudeh's family with a string of measures.