April 9, 2009

His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
Islamic Republic of Iran

His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Head of the Judiciary
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh
Office of the Head of the Judiciary
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our shock regarding the death of Internet writer Omidreza Mirsayafi.

According to our information, Omidreza Mirsayafi died on March 18, 2009, while detained at Evin Prison, Tehran. Mirsayafi, who was in his mid-20s, had been sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment on charges of insulting Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei and publishing online propaganda against the regime. Prison authorities claim that Mirsayafi committed suicide by overdosing on medication he had been taking for depression, but his family and a fellow inmate maintain that he did not have enough medicine in his possession to commit suicide. Mirsayafi’s health had deteriorated sharply during his imprisonment, and prison authorities reportedly ignored his requests for medical attention.

Omidreza Mirsayafi was originally arrested on April 22, 2008, when his home was searched and his computer seized. He spent 40 days in detention before being released on bail pending appeal. On February 7, 2009, Mirsayafi was summoned for questioning and remanded to Evin Prison. He maintained his innocence until his death.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned by Omidreza Mirsayafi’s death, and calls upon the Iranian authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation of the issue. We remind the Iranian government of their responsibility to protect all individuals who peacefully exercise their right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory, and expect that all findings regarding Mirsayafi’s death be made public.
Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue
Azerbaijan Intersection
Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790

H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 867-7086

>> Back to Rapid Action