Leading Journalist Returned to Prison; Serious Health Concerns
PEN International is seriously concerned about reports that leading journalist and human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi has been returned to prison despite severe health problems. Baghi was sentenced to six years in prison in September 2010 on charges relating to an interview he gave to the BBC’s Persian Service in 2008, but remained free on bail until on December 5, 2010. He is reportedly being held without access to family visits, and there are serious concerns for his welfare in prison. PEN reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Emadeddin Baghi in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
According to PEN’s information, Emadeddin Baghi, a prominent Iranian journalist and human rights activist, was arrested on December 28, 2009, following the broadcast by the BBC Persian Service of a two-year-old interview Baghi had conducted with the late Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, an influential cleric who died on December 19, 2009. The government has sought to clamp down on publicity about Montazeri, who had criticized the conduct of the June presidential election. Baghi spent nearly six months in solitary confinement before being released from the notorious Evin prison on June 23, 2010, on bail of 200 million Tomans (approx. US$ 200,000). He was sentenced in September 2010 to six years in prison. He also received a one-year prison sentence and a five-year political ban in July 2010 for his work advocating prisoners’ rights.
Emadeddin Baghi has a long history of political imprisonment and persecution. He was first imprisoned on May 29, 2000, and sentenced to a three-year prison term on charges of “endangering national security” for his writings about the serial murder of dissident intellectuals in Iran in the late 1990s. He served two years of that sentence, and one year was suspended. He also received a one-year suspended term in 2003 for “endangering national security” and “printing lies” in his book, The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran. His newspaper Joumhouriat was shut down in 2003. In October 2007 he was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of “acting against national security,” “propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” and “divulging state secret information” for his activities as president of the Society for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights, an organization that he founded in 2003. In December 2007 Baghi suffered a heart attack and three seizures in prison, and remained in poor health without adequate medical care until his release in October 2008. PEN advocated for his release during his previous detentions.
Baghi is the founder of the Association for the Defense of Prisoners’ Rights, which had been compiling information on torture and other abuses of detainees. In the late 1990s he exposed the serial murders of Iranian intellectuals. His books Right to Life and Right to Life II argue for the abolition of the death penalty and have been banned by the authorities. He is the author of 20 books, six of which have been banned in Iran, and winner of the Martin Annals Award in 2009 and British Press Awards for International Journalist of the Year 2008.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the imprisonment of leading Iranian journalist, writer, and human rights activist Emadeddin Baghi;
- Expressing serious concern that Baghi’s already fragile health will deteriorate in prison;
- Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Emadeddin Baghi and all those currently detained in Iran in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.
Send Your Letter To
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street
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
His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790
(mark: "Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad")
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after December 31, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org