Dangerously Ill Iranian Human Rights Defender Must be Released
New York – Emadeddin Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights activist and journalist suffered an apparent heart attack on December 26 while being held in pre-trial detention in Tehran’s Evin Prison. He was moved to hospital, but the authorities returned him to prison the following day, where his health is at serious risk. Human Rights First is calling on the Iranian government to release Baghi immediately and unconditionally so that he can receive necessary medical care and resume his vital, legitimate work for human rights.
“Baghi has committed no crime and his continuing imprisonment, which threatens his life, is an outrage,” said Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director of Human Rights First.
Emadeddin Baghi was detained in October 2007 on charges of “endangering national security,” which relate to his activities as the head of a human rights organization, the Association to Protect Prisoners, that has documented cases of torture and abuse of prisoners in Iran and campaigned for reforms. He was previously arrested in 2003 and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on similar charges for reporting on official involvement in the murders of opposition figures in the 1990s. He was released after two years, with the third year suspended.
Since his most recent detention, he has been held in solitary confinement in poor conditions, and according to his lawyer, subjected to harsh interrogation. These conditions have apparently contributed to the serious deterioration in his health. Baghi is 45 years old.
Baghi is the recipient of many international human rights awards including the 2004 Civil Courage Prize and the 2005 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.