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Imprisoned Iranian Journalist


The health of imprisoned Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji reportedly continues to deteriorate. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that the United States has received information that Mr. Ganji "is at serious risk":

"This is consistent with his wife's charge in late October that Iranian authorities are continuing to beat Ganji, and. . . .nongovernmental organizations [Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch) report that he was abused, even while hospitalized, following his August 2005 hunger strike."

Akbar Ganji has spent almost all of the past five years in Iran's Evin prison. He was arrested after writing a series of newspaper articles implicating Iranian government officials in the murders of political dissidents and intellectuals in the 1990s.

Mr. Ganji has called for democratic reform in Iran. He was briefly released in May 2005 on a temporary medical leave but was ordered back to jail after describing Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as a dictator who should be held accountable to the Iranian people. The independent monitoring group Reporters Without Borders issued a statement saying, "Ganji seems to have been placed in total solitary confinement in a special section of Evin to which only the Revolutionary Guards have access."

Reporters Without Borders says, "Shutting him away like this is a flagrant violation of Iranian law, which explicitly says detainees may receive visits from their relatives and lawyers. The sole aim of the prison authorities," says Reporters Without Borders, "seems to be to break Ganji completely."

State Department spokesman McCormack says that Mr. Ganji's "imprisonment and any inhumane treatment are serious violations of fundamental human rights":

"Ganji is one of many courageous Iranians like Ahmed Batebi, Hoda Saber, Taghi Rahmani, and Resa Alijani who have challenged the clerical regime's repressive policies and who have suffered dire consequences for their efforts to advance the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people."

The United States, says Mr. McCormack, "calls on the international community to continue to press for the release of all political prisoners in Iran."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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