yousef-pourAuthorities Refuse Treatment for Critical Illnesses

Mohammad Hassan Yousef Pourseifi, a prisoner of conscience too sick to complete his prison sentence, remains inside Evin Prison as authorities refuse to transfer him to a hospital to seek treatment for heart disease, rheumatism, and to maintain his eyesight, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Pourseifi has lost 80% of his eyesight, according to the source, who added that the Medical Examiner’s Office has certified Pourseifi’s inability to complete his prison term. The authorities have not issued any explanation for their refusal to release the prisoner.

The Medical Examiner’s Office, a subsidiary of the Iranian Judiciary, is the only organization authorized to certify a prisoner’s inability to complete a prison sentence, in cases in which the prisoner’s continued detention could risk his life.

The authorities in Iran frequently deny necessary medical care to prisoners, particularly in the case of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, in direct violation of Iranian and international law.

Pourseifi, a radio host and senior producer for Iranian state radio, was a member of the Society for the Defense of Working and Homeless Children. He was arrested in 2009 on charges of “cooperating with the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA),” and was later released. He was dismissed from his job with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) in 2010 on the same grounds.

A Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati, sentenced Pourseifi to 5.5 years in prison in 2011 on charges of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security,” “propaganda against the state,” and “insulting the sacred through membership and cooperation with the illegal organization called the Human Rights Activists News Agency.” He was transferred to Evin Prison on September 8, 2012, to begin serving his term.

“He did not have any health issues prior to his imprisonment, but he developed heart disease, rheumatism, and retinal dysfunction in both eyes in prison, and his eyesight deteriorated severely within a very short period of time. Despite repeated requests from him and his family, the officials refused to transfer him to a hospital for months. When he was finally transferred to Tehran’s Farabi Hospital, the doctors said that he has irreparably lost 80% of his eyesight,” the source told the Campaign. He has since been returned to Evin without receiving the necessary treatment. Pourseifi is also in need of open heart surgery.

Despite his family’s delivering a collateral for his bail of 400 million toman ($135,000) required for a few days’ furlough in January, Pourseifi has yet to be released on furlough.