Political Prisoner Issa Saharkhiz Hospitalized in Tehran
Journalist and political activist Issa Saharkhiz has been at Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran since 14 December 2011, a source close to his family told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The source added that the political prisoner’s family is under immense pressure not to give interviews to foreign media.
“Everyone tried to keep the news about his hospitalization a secret, lest he be transferred back to prison,” the source said. “All his kin are keeping silent, hoping that he receives his needed medical care before he is returned to prison.”
Issa Saharkhiz, a journalist and the former head of the Ministry of Culture and Guidance’s Domestic Press in the Khatami cabinet, was arrested in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election. Security forces assaulted Saharkhiz during his arrest, breaking his ribs.
“Four months ago, a specialist ordered an MRI for my father, but the Prosecutor’s Office and the Intelligence Ministry did not agree to his leaving the prison,” Saharkhiz’s son Mehdi told the Campaign on 23 November 2011. “A while later my father developed internal bleeding and needed surgery, but even then they did not agree to his leave.” Saharkhiz’s family had repeatedly requested his transfer to a hospital, offering to foot his treatment bills, but the requests had not been approved.
Since his December hospitalization, Saharkhiz has been tied to his hospital bed with handcuffs and footcuffs, a source close to the family told the Campaign. Four security forces watch Saharkhiz day and night. The source added, however, that the family’s visits have been conducted in a more relaxed atmosphere in the last few days.
After the 2009 arrest, Judge Abolghassem Salavati, “The Judge of Death” of Branch 15 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court, sentenced Issa Saharkhiz to three years in prison on the charges of insulting the Supreme Leader and propaganda against the regime. According to a new court ruling from 5 August 2011, he was sentenced to two additional years of imprisonment for his prior press activities. Saharkhiz is now housed in Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, and has not been granted furlough since his arrest.