PEN International has received information that blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki has been summoned to return to prison to continue serving his 15-year prison sentence despite his continuing ill-health, or face confiscation of the bail collateral posted for his release. He is expected to return on 18 or 19 January 2016. Ronaghi Maleki had been released from prison on medical grounds on 17 June 2015, having been been held since 28 February 2015 after the Iranian authorities accused him of attempting to flee the country while on an earlier period of temporary leave from prison, claims which his father says are false. He remains in poor health, suffering from kidney disease and associated illnesses which are the results of previous torture. His father has appealed against a four-month prison sentence imposed for his advocacy for his son. PEN International is calling for Hossein Ronaghi Maleki not to be returned to prison, and for him to be released unconditionally as his sentence relates to his peaceful freedom of expression.
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Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, 29, blogger and founder of an anti-censorship group known as ‘Iran Proxy,’ was arrested on 13 December 2009 in Malekan, East Azerbaijan Province, after discussing politics in a series of critical blogs which were blocked by the government. He was held in pre-trial detention in solitary confinement for 10 months after his arrest and later sentenced to a 15-year prison after conviction of membership of an illegal organisation aiming to harm national security in connection with his alleged membership of the internet group ‘Iran Proxy’; “spreading propaganda against the system”, “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “insulting the President”. An appeals court upheld his sentence.
Tried separately in two other cases in 2013, he was sentenced to two years for “gathering and colluding to harm national security” while giving aid to earthquake victims and five months for disobeying the orders of police while giving aid to the same victims. The two-year sentence was overturned on appeal in September 2013.
Maleki was held in Evin Prison in Tehran, where his kidney problems worsened – thought to be the result of torture – and suffers from related complications. In March 2011 he was hospitalised and underwent a kidney transplant in May of the same year. He has subsequently been hospitalised several times.
In 2012, Maleki was reportedly granted leave, during which time he was arrested again for participation in helping earthquake victims near his home town in East Azerbaijan province. In November 2012 he was again granted leave for medical treatment, but was recalled to prison before the presidential election in June 2013. Maleki went on hunger strike on 9 August 2013 in protest at being denied medical leave. However, he was forced to suspend it on 5 September 2013 after becoming critically ill.
Maleki was finally granted medical leave again on 4 September 2014; however in March 2015 he was re-arrested after the authorities accused him of attempting to flee the country, claims which his father vehemently denies. He was summoned to report back to prison in July 2015 but was able to remain free until he received a further summons threatening the confiscation of his bail unless he reported back to prison before 19 January 2016. Ronaghi Maleki reported the summons on hisTwitter account on 11 January 2016.
Ronaghi Malek’s father, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, learned in early July 2015 that he had been sentenced to four months’ imprisonment by Branch 116 of the Tabriz General Court, in a hearing he had not been informed about and therefore took place without his presence or the presence of his lawyer. Members of the family have several times reported that they have been pressured and threatened by members of the intelligence services not to speak publicly about Hossein Ronaghi Maleki’s case. PEN International is seeking an update as to the status of this case.
For further information, please contact Ann Harrison, Director of the Freedom to Write Programme at PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK, Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, Email: Ann.Harrison@pen-international.org
Write a Letter
Please send appeals:
- Expressing concern at reports that blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki who suffers from serious kidney disease has been ordered to return to prison, and urging that this order be rescinded and that he be allowed to continue to receive specialist medical care outside prison;
- Urging that his conviction and sentence be overturned immediately, as they relate solely to his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;
- Further urging that the conviction and sentence of his father, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki be overturned immediately, as his advocacy on behalf of his son is a legitimate and peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic of Iran.
Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Sadeqh Larijani
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri
Islamic Republic of Iran.
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)
***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals 15 February 2016. Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Iran in your country, asking for their comments. A list of diplomatic missions can be found here***
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