International PEN is seriously concerned about reports that leading journalist and human-rights defender Emadeddin Baqi has suffered another heart attack in prison on May 7, 2008. 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. PEN seeks assurances of Baqi’s health and guarantees that he is being given access to all necessary medical care.

Background Information

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

Baqi, a leading pro-reform journalist and human-rights activist, was arrested on October 14, 2007, at the Security Unit of the General and Revolutionary Public Prosecutor’s Office after he responded to a summons. He was 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 organization he founded in 2003. While his family posted bail, Evin prison authorities arrived at the courthouse and announced that Baqi was required to serve a one-year suspended sentence he had been 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 by the reformist press and in his book The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran, which implicates Iranian officials in the 1998 murders of a number of intellectuals and dissidents. Baqi was sentenced on December 4, 2003, to one year in jail, suspended for five years. On October 17, 2004, the suspension was reportedly lifted, and he subsequently launched an appeal against the judgment. On February 2, 2005, the sentence was upheld and his appeal was rejected. However the sentence was not enforced until now, for reasons that remain unclear to PEN.

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

On April 8, 2008, Baqi was named the 2008 International Journalist of the Year, by the British Press Awards. 

Write A Letter

  • expressing serious concern about reports that journalist and human-rights activist Emadeddin Baqi has suffered another heart attack in prison, 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 Baqi's detention and calling for his immediate and unconditional release on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with Article 19 of the ICCPR.

Send Your Letter To

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
E-mail:  info@leader.ir or istiftaa@wilayah.org

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

Minister of Intelligence
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie
Ministry of Intelligence
Second Negarestan Street, Pasdaran Avenue
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail: iranprobe@iranprobe.com

President
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax va Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790
(Npte: "Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad")
E-mail: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

Please send a copy of your appeal to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after June 14, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org