Several journalists held in Evin prison are seriously ill

Published on 1 April 2010

Reporters Without Borders is extremely worried about the appalling conditions in which Iranian prisoners of conscience, including many journalists, are being held. The authorities continue to detain them arbitrarily even when they are ailing and in very poor physical or psychological health.

“The lives of many journalists are now in danger,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Emadoldin Baghi, Badrolssadat Mofidi, Mehdi Mahmudian and Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand are seriously ill. We call for their unconditional and definitive release. We appeal to the Iranian authorities to act so that these lives are no longer at risk. We will hold them responsible for any misfortune.”

After visiting her husband, Emadoldin Baghi, in Tehran’s Evin prison on 30 March, Fatemeh Kamali Ahmad Sarai reported that he was taken to a Tehran hospital with a respiratory problem on 18 March before being returned to the prison later the same day.

A journalist and active campaigner against the death penalty, Baghi, 46, has been held since his arrest in Tehran on 28 December. He has been jailed several times since 2000 and was hospitalised on several occasions during his last spell in prison. Despite paying a large amount in bail, he was not allowed to spend the Persian New Year at home with his family on 21 March.

The family of Badrolssadat Mofidi, the head of the Association of Journalists and a contributor to several reformist newspapers, describe her condition as critical. “She has heart problems,” one of her daughters said after a prison visit. “She is being given very strong tranquilisers as the interrogations are causing her a great deal of stress.” Mofidi has been held in Evin prison’s Section 209 since her arrest on 28 December.

Mehdi Mahmudian, the journalist who exposed the inhuman treatment of prisoners at the Kahrizak detention centre, told his family by phone that he has been suffering from acute asthma. He has also suffered other kinds of attacks, losing consciousness in his cell on one occasion. He has been held for the past seven months.

Held since July 2007, Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, who heads the Kurdistan Human Rights Organisation as well as being a journalist, has had several undiagnosed attacks in his cell. His state of health is worrying but he is being denied treatment and the prison authorities have systematically refused his requests for medical parole.

There are other detained journalists with health problems. They include Henghameh Shahidi, Issa Saharkhiz, Nader Karimi and Mojtaba Lotfi, a cleric and website editor who was sentenced to four years in prison followed by five years of banishment on charges of anti-government propaganda and disseminating the views of Hossein Ali Montazeri, a dissident ayatollah.