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Dissident journalist Akbar Ganji reportedly tortured and ill-treated; serious health concerns

(WiPC/IFEX) - International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee is gravely concerned at reports that leading dissident journalist and writer Akbar Ganji has been tortured by security officers in Milad hospital, Tehran, and is being ill-treated in prison. International PEN calls on the Iranian authorities to launch an immediate investigation into these allegations, and demands that Ganji be granted immediate access to a medical examination and any necessary care by an independent doctor of his choice. PEN reiterates its call for Ganji's immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

Amnesty International gives the following background:

"In an open letter published [on 27 October 2005] on the Emrouz news web site, Akbar Ganji's wife, Massoumeh Shafii, reported that she was allowed to visit her husband on 18 October 2005, that is 51 days after she had last visited him in hospital on 28 August. She states that her husband told her that two days after her last visit, a team of Iranian security officers visited him in hospital and asked him to apologize in writing for his book Republican Manisfesto and for the letters he had written to Ayatollah Montazeri, and to undertake not to give interviews if he was to be granted prison leave. Akbar Ganji refused and was reportedly severely beaten by the same officers while in the quarantine wing of the Milad hospital.

On 3 September Akbar Ganji was reportedly told by the head of the same security team that he was about to be released and that the officers who had beaten him would apologize for their actions. He was then driven to Evin prison and during the car journey he was reportedly ill-treated and suffered a dislocated shoulder as a result. His request to be taken back to hospital was denied and he was given physiotherapy by a prison doctor. He remains in Evin prison, serving the rest of his six-year sentence."

Ganji suffers from chronic asthma for which he has been repeatedly denied necessary medical care, and recently ended a two-month hunger strike during which his health severely deteriorated. He is said to be held in solitary confinement in the intelligence section of Evin prison, and to be losing weight as a result of inadequate diet. His condition is said to be deteriorating.

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