Iran: Imprisoned Journalist’s Health Critical

***UPDATE: English PEN welcomes the release of leading journalist Emadeddin Baqi. According to our information, he was provisionally released from Evin Prison on 15 September 2008 to undergo medical treatment, and days later, on 20 October, he learned that he had been granted a definitive release on expiry of his sentence. English PEN would like to thank all those who sent appeals on his behalf.***

English PEN is seriously concerned about reports that leading journalist and human rights defender Emadeddin Baqi has suffered another heart attack in prison on 7 May 2008.

According to English PEN’s information, Emadeddin Baqi, who has a history of heart problems, suffered a heart attack in prison on 7 May 2008. He was taken to hospital, but returned the same day to Tehran’s Evin prison. He previously suffered a heart attack in prison on 26 December 2007, after which he was briefly hospitalised for emergency treatment but then returned to prison. He is believed to be held incommunicado and in solitary confinement in section 209 of Tehran’s Evin prison. Further heart problems meant that Baqi was released from prison on 18 January 2008 on medical grounds, but was returned to jail against the advice of his doctors on 15 April 2008. There are grave concerns for his well-being.


 

English PEN considers Emadeddin Baqi to be detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression, and calls on the Iranian authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a signatory. English PEN seeks assurances of Baqi’s health, and guarantees that he is being given access to all necessary medical care as a matter of urgency.

Background
Emadeddin Baqi, leading pro-reform journalist and human rights activist, was arrested on 14 October 2007 at the Security Unit of the General and Revolutionary Public Prosecutor’s Office after he responded to a summons. He is believed to have been charged with ‘propaganda against the regime’ and ‘publishing secret government documents’ for his activities as president of the Society for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights, an organisation that he founded in 2003. Whilst his family was posting bail, Evin prison authorities arrived at the courthouse and announced that Baqi was required to serve a one-year suspended sentence he was given in December 2003, and he was immediately transferred to jail. In November 2003 he had been charged with ‘endangering national security’ and ‘publishing lies’ in a series of articles published in the reformist press and his book The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran, implicating Iranian officials in the 1998 murders of a number of intellectuals and dissidents. Baqi was sentenced on 4 December 2003 to one year in jail, suspended for five years. On 17 October 2004 the suspensive character of the prison sentence was reportedly lifted, and he subsequently launched an appeal against the judgement. On 2 February 2005, the one-year prison sentence was upheld and his appeal was rejected. However the sentence was not enforced until now, for reasons that remain unclear to English PEN.

Emadeddin Baqi has a history of political imprisonment and persecution; his family report that he has been summoned to court 23 times in the past four years alone. He was first imprisoned on 29 May 2000 after being convicted on several counts stemming from his critical writings, including those that “questioned the validity of …Islamic law”, “threatening national security”, and “spreading unsubstantiated news stories”. Baqi was sentenced on 17 July 2000 to five and a half years in prison, which was commuted to three years on 22 October 2000. He reportedly served two years of this sentence.

On 8 April 2008, Baqi was named the 2008 International Journalist of the Year, by the British Press Awards. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/09/pressandpublishing1

 

Please send appeals
• Expressing serious concerns about reports that Baqi has suffered another heart attack in prison, and seeking guarantees of his well-being and demanding that he is given full access to his family, lawyers and all necessary medical treatment immediately.


• Protesting the detention of journalist and human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the ICCPR.

Addresses
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran

Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Intelligence,
Second Negarestan Street
Pasdaran Avenue
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

Copies to
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

It may be most effective to send the above appeals via the diplomatic representative for Iran in the UK:

His Excellency Mr Rasoul Movahedian
16 Prince’s Gate
London
SW7 1PT
Fax: 020 7589 4440

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/iranimprisonedjournalistshealthcritical/

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