Amnesty demands release of critically-ill Iranian blogger

A jailed and critically ill Iranian blogger must be released immediately for urgent medical treatment, human rights body Amnesty International has demanded.

Mohammad Reza Pourshajari, 53, was arrested at his home in Karaj, north-west of Tehran, on 12 September, 2010, for writing a blog.

He spent eight months in solitary confinement awaiting trial, when he was tortured and subjected to a mock execution to force a ‘confession’. He has also been denied access to a lawyer since he was arrested.

He was jailed for one year in December 2011 on charges of ‘insulting Islamic sanctities’, and to three more years for ‘insulting the Leader’ and ‘acting against national security’.

He has been in poor health since September 2012 when he suffered the first of two heart attacks. After his second, in February 2013, he was taken to a hospital outside the prison for five days.

The Prosecutor General of Alborz Province asked the prison authorities on 6 November 2013 to have Mr Pourshajari undergo a medical examination to assess his health requirements.

He was then taken to Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran on December 25 for one hour, but a nurse was unable to examine his heart.

He was taken to the medical facility of Ghezal Hesar Prison on January 4 this year when he was suddenly unable to breathe and given a ‘unknown’ injection, it was reported.

His daughter Mitra Pourshajari told Amnesty that no proper medical tests have yet been carried out to assess her father’s heart condition.

Amnesty said the denial of medical treatment is a violation of the absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment, which is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also recognises the right of all persons to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners also states that prisoners who require specialist treatment must be transferred to specialist institutions or civil hospitals, Amnesty said.

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