Home Page > News Item > Iran: blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki must not be returned to prison

PEN Digital Freedom logoRAN 10/15

23 July 2015

 

Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was ordered to return to prison immediately on 29 June 2015. He has not complied, as his health remains precarious. He was released from prison on medical grounds on 17 June 2015, having been been held since 28 February 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. Arrested in December 2009, Maleki was sentenced to 15 years in prison in October 2010 after conviction of vaguely worded national security charges in connection with his peaceful blogging. Maleki suffers from kidney disease and associated illnesses and was transferred to hospital several times during his imprisonment. His father, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, was sentenced to four months in prison in July 2015, in a court session he knew nothing about, for ‘publishing lies in cyber space’ in connection with his advocacy for his son. PEN International is calling for Hossein Ronaghi Malekinot to be returned to prison and for his conviction and sentence, and that of his father, to be quashed.

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Please send appeals:

  • 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Maleki who suffers from serious kidney disease has been ordered to return to prison, and urging that this order be rescinded and that he be allowed to receive specialist medical care outside prison;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;
  • Further urging that the conviction and sentence of his father, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki be overturned immediately, as his advocacy on behalf of his son is a legitimate and peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

Appeals to:

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei,
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street,
Qom,
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
Tehran 1316814737
Islamic Republic of Iran.

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Hassan Rouhani
The Presidency
Pasteur Street, Pasteur Square
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: media@rouhani.ir
Twitter: @HassanRouhani (English) and @Rouhani_ir (Persian)

***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 23 August 2015. Please copy your appeals to the Embassy of Iran in your country, asking for their comments. A list of diplomatic missions can be found here***

** Please send us copies of your letters or information about other activities and of any responses received.**

 

Background

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, 29, blogger and founder of an anti-censorship group known as ‘Iran Proxy,’ was arrested on 13 December 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 term after conviction of membership of an illegal organisation 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.  Ronaghi Maleki has said that when he told a judge about the torture he had been subjected to in detention, rather than ordering an investigation, the judge told him that he ‘deserved it’.

In July 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. This led to two other trials 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 he developed serious kidney problems – thought to be the result of torture – and suffers from related complications. In March 2011 he was hospitalised and underwent a kidney transplant in May of the same year. He has subsequently been hospitalised several times.

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 9 August 2013 in protest at being denied medical leave, however, he was forced to suspend it on 5 September 2013 after becoming critically ill.

Maleki was finally granted medical leave again on 4 September 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 is currently being held in Ward 7 of Evin Prison and is thought to have embarked upon another hunger strike. There are serious concerns for his health.

Ronaghi Malek’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.  The verdict is subject to appeal.  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.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@pen-international.org

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