Imprisoned Iran blogger commits suicide in custody

[JURIST] Iranian blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi reportedly committed suicide Wednesday after serving one month of a 30-month prison sentence for insulting Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [BBC profile; official profile]. Both the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHR) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) [advocacy websites] reported that Mirsayafi had been suffering from depression [RSF report], with ICHR reporting that Mirsayafi had taken an excess of medication [ICHR report]. Human Rights Activists in Iran [advocacy website, in Persian] reported [text] that another inmate at the Evin prison [BBC backgrounder], Dr. Hesam Firouzi, provided first-aid and took Mirsayafi to the prison ward nurse's station, where he was denied medical treatment. The ICHR has called for Iran's judiciary to investigate the death, with spokesperson Hadi Ghaemi saying, "Iranian leaders have relegated the administration of the prison system to a group of incompetent and cruel officials who are showing their utter disregard for human life."

While print journalists have long been imprisoned [JURIST news archive] for producing unfavorable reports, the advent of blogging has resulted in a new group subject to sanctions for their reporting. In January, Chinese blogger Chen Qitang was sentenced to 30 months in prison [JURIST report] for making disparaging remarks about the government. In September, the Singapore Supreme Court sentenced US blogger Gopalan Nair [JURIST report] to three months in jail for insulting a judge. In February 2007, Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil was sentenced to four years in prison [JURIST report] for insulting Islam and causing sectarian strife.



 

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