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Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, who is currenlty in jail in Iran over open letters he wrote critical of Khamenei
The wife of jailed Iranian filmmaker and journalist Mohammad Nourizad says she has had no news about his health, just days after he planned to begin a dry hunger-strike in Tehran's Evin prison, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Fatemeh Maleki said Nourizad declared earlier he would start a hunger strike on December 11 and continue until his death. She told Radio Farda on December 13 that she "waited outside Evin prison in severe cold weather from [the] morning until 5 p.m., but could not get any news of my husband."

Nourizad was detained in December 2009 after publishing several open letters on his blog to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom he held responsible for the crackdown following the June 2009 presidential election.

Nourizad was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail and 50 lashes on charges of insulting the supreme leader and antistate propaganda.

He was released on bail in June this year but was returned to Evin prison two months later after he wrote another open letter critical of Khamenei.

Maleki said her husband began the hunger-strike to protest his three-minute "show trial" during which he said he was insulted by the presiding judge.

Nourizad used to work for the conservative newspaper "Kayhan." He was a supporter of Khamenei until the crackdown that followed last year's disputed presidential election.

In his most recent open letter to Khamenei in October, Nourizad argued that the United States protects religious freedom and moral values more than Iran does. Addressing Khamenei, he wrote: "You are the only person in Iran who enjoys freedom of speech, while each and every American has freedom of speech in his country."
Two Belarusian activists working for opposition presidential candidates have been attacked in the western region of Hrodna, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Kiryl Semyanchuk, a supporter of presidential candidate Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, was attacked by two unknown men in the village of Azyory, in the Hrodna region, on December 12, while distributing leaflets supporting Nyaklyaeu.

Semyanchuk told RFE/RL the attackers poked him, cursed him, and tore letters in his shirt that said "For Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu!"

Semyanchuk said several women passersby interfered in the situation and the attackers fled the scene. One woman later told Semyanchuk she saw the attackers leave a police car before they attacked him.

The same day, activist Danila Klyauko, who was passing out flyers supporting opposition presidential candidate Yaraslau Ramanchuk, was attacked by a man in the city of Hrodna. Klyauko said the attacker hit him in the head several times and warned Klyauko to stop distributing the leaflets.

The presidential election is scheduled for December 19. Ten candidates, including incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka, have been officially registered as candidates.

Belarus has never held a presidential election deemed free and fair by international election monitoring groups.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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