Is it coincidence or deliberate irony?
Iranian authorities have summoned journalist and prominent human rights defender Emaddedin Baghi back to Evin prison – virtually on the anniversary of the events a dozen years ago that first led to his becoming a focus of attention by the Iranian government.
Mr. Baghi had been out on bail while he appealed a July 2010 conviction on security-related charges. His offers of legal and financial help to families of political detainees and an appearance on the BBC along with the late dissident Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri were regarded as crimes during his trial.
The often-arrested Mr. Baghi was recalled to prison just prior to the 12-year anniversary of one of the horrific 1998 serial killings of Iranian writers and intellectuals that became known as the "Chain Murders." In 1999, Mr. Baghi wrote a series of investigative articles about the murders which implicated Iranian officials in the killings. In 2000, Mr. Baghi was convicted of "endangering national security" and served two years in prison. An outspoken human rights defender and advocate for the rule of law, he was convicted of similar so-called crimes in 2003 and again in 2007. Mr. Baghi's wife told reporters that he suffers from serious health problems because of the harsh conditions he has endured in prison.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, the CPJ, has expressed grave concern over Mr. Baghi's return to prison and over the brutal treatment suffered by him and other journalists incarcerated by the Iranian government for exercising their fundamental right to free expression and for their peaceful political beliefs. In particular, the CPJ mentions the deteriorating health of detained journalist and blogger Mehdi Mahmoudian; journalist and human rights activist Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand; and journalist and founder of the now defunct Association of Iranian Journalists, Issa Saharkhiz, who has complained of being tortured in custody.
In September, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that "the steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obligated the United States to speak out time and time again."
As the Committee to Protect Journalists notes, that deterioration continues. The United States again calls on the Iranian government to end its violations of the human rights of its citizens and to release all political prisoners held in Iran.