Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

Iranian blogger on hunger strike dies in prison, state media says

Vahid Sayyadi Nasiri, a real estate specialist, died after a 60-day hunger strike

Nasiri was arrested for social media posts critical of the Iranian regime AP
Nasiri was arrested for social media posts critical of the Iranian regime AP

A social media activist arrested in Iran on security charges has died, a semi-official state news agency confirmed on Sunday.

Western rights groups first reported the blogger Vahid Sayyadi Nasir had died following a 60-day hunger strike on Wednesday, stressing another prisoner's life might be in danger. The semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA confirmed his death, citing an anonymous official.

Nasiri, a real estate specialist, was critical of the regime on social media and was arrested on charges of "insulting the sacred" and "propaganda against the state". He later went on hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions and to demand legal counsel, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran said.

"The political prisoner Vahid Sayyadi Nasiri, on hunger strike since October 13 to protest the denial of his right to counsel and inhumane prison conditions at Iran’s Langroud Prison in Qom where he was being held, has died at the Shahid Beheshti Hospital in Qom," the group said on Wednesday.

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ISNA said Nasiri had been convicted twice for being part of a royalist group and planning acts of sabotage including an explosion.

Nasiri had been taken to hospital where he died due to a liver disease, ISNA said. Medhi Kaheh, the prosecutor in the city of Qom, said Nasiri had been arrested for "insulting Islamic sanctities" on social media had taken ill and died, the state broadcaster IRIB reported.

Neither news agency referred to a hunger strike.

The group said the life of another prisoner, Farhad Meysami, who has been on a hunger strike in Evin Prison since August 1 is in danger.

Mr Meysami, a 48-year-old physician, was arrested on July 31 "for allegedly having badges in his home that said, 'I am against compulsory hijab,'" the group said.

Iran, whose officials often warn of efforts by foreign enemies to infiltrate state institutions, has detained scores of journalists and social media activists in recent years, and many others have gone into exile.

In November, Reporters Without Borders said Iran had launched a new crackdown on journalists in which several had been questioned and three arrested in connection with social network posts.

Iran rejects criticism of its human rights record by international human rights bodies as politically motivated and based on a lack of understanding of Islamic laws.

Updated: December 16, 2018 06:54 PM

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