Iran: Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki Must Not be Returned to Prison


 
 
Iran: Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki Must Not be Returned to Prison

Hossein Ronaghi

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 January 18 or 19, 2016. Ronaghi Maleki had been released from prison on medical grounds on June 17, 2015, having been been held since February 28, 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.

PEN Center USA joins PEN International in 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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Please SIGN the petition at the bottom of this page to join PEN's appeal to the Iranian authorities:

  • 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Maleki who suffers from serious kidney disease has been ordered to return to prison, and urging that this order be rescinded and that he be allowed to continue to receive specialist medical care outside prison;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.

Background

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, 29, blogger and founder of an anti-censorship group known as ‘Iran Proxy,’ was arrested on December 13, 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 sentence after conviction of membership of an illegal organization 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 hospitalized and underwent a kidney transplant in May of the same year. He has subsequently been hospitalized 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 August 9, 2013, in protest at being denied medical leave. However, he was forced to suspend it on September 5, 2013, after becoming critically ill.

Maleki was finally granted medical leave again on September 4, 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 January 19, 2016. Ronaghi Maleki reported the summons on his Twitter account on January 11, 2016.

Ronaghi Maleki’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.

 


 
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