Iran temporarily releases hunger-striking journalist

AFP , Sunday 9 Oct 2016

Iran has temporarily released a journalist for medical treatment after he became sick following a hunger strike, local media reported Sunday.

Ehsan Mazandarani, who runs reformist daily newspaper Farhikhtegan, was arrested in late 2015 and sentenced in April to seven years for "acting against national security".

"The health of my client, due to a hunger strike he was on, turned bad and he was transferred to hospital," his lawyer Hooshang Pourbabayi told the ISNA news agency.

Mazandarani's wife, Maliheh Hosseini, told local media that a doctor at Tehran's notorious Evin prison reported concerns over the journalist's health.

"We were told to go to Evin prison and take my husband to hospital," she told the reformist-linked ILNA news agency, adding that he had suffered bleeding in the stomach and his blood sugar level had plunged.

Four other journalists are thought to have been arrested around the same time as Mazandarani and have been given sentences ranging from two to 10 years.

The elite Revolutionary Guards claimed to have disrupted an "infiltration network linked to hostile Western governments".

That followed warnings by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei against "infiltration" by Western media.

Mazandarani's lawyer said he had heard that his client's sentence has been reduced to two years, but had no official confirmation.

Mazandarani was previously arrested in 2009 for acting against national security and having contacts with foreigners as protests swept the country following the disputed re-election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Journalists in Iran frequently face prosecution.

Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post's Tehran correspondent and a dual Iranian-American citizen, was arrested in July 2014 and convicted last year of espionage and other charges.

He was freed in January this year as part of a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States that saw several Iranians released.

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