UN Experts Say Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Risks 'Possible Death'

Six United Nations rights experts are calling for the immediate release of imprisoned dissident Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, who they say is reportedly so ill he risks "serious complications and possible death.”

"We are seriously concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued imprisonment for expressing his opinion," the independent UN experts said in a joint statement issued on May 4.

“It is clear that Mohammad Nourizad is not in a medical state to remain in prison,” they said, adding that his continued detention and the denial of adequate medical care “may amount to torture.”

The outspoken Nourizad, who has written and directed several films, has since 2019 been serving a prison sentence totaling over 17 years on charges of allegedly insulting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to Amnesty International.

Nourizad, who has been arrested several times in the past, is among activists who have publicly called for the resignation of Khamenei.

The experts who signed up to the joint statement included the UN special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in Iran; on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression; on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; on the right to physical and mental health; and on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions.

They pointed out that Nourizad had gone on hunger strikes in detention and refused to take medications to protest his imprisonment and his family's mistreatment by the authorities.

"He has also reportedly attempted suicide in prison, and began to self-harm as a form of protest on February 19," according to the statement.

This was particularly worrying, it said, since he has been diagnosed with a heart condition and has repeatedly lost consciousness in detention.

He also suffers from diabetes, according to Amnesty International, which last month warned that Iranian authorities were "cruelly toying with the life" of Nourizad.

The UN experts said the filmmaker was transferred to Loghman Hakim Educational Hospital in Tehran on April 14 after fainting, and was injected with a substance he did not know the content of and had not consented to.

They added that the Iranian judiciary's own legal medical organization and other medical professionals had reportedly found he should be released.

"The Iranian authorities must release him immediately in line with these medical opinions and give him free access to the required medical care and treatment," they said.

The experts said Nourizad's treatment reflected that of many detained in Iran for "merely exercising their right to freedom of expression," including some who have reportedly died due to denial of adequate medical treatment.

"His case is emblematic of the situation many Iranian political activists face in detention," they said.

With reporting by AFP