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Journalist and activist Abdolreza Tajik
The whereabouts of prominent Iranian human rights activist and journalist arrested last month are still unclear, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Parvin Tajik, the sister of activist Abdolreza Tajik, told Radio Farda on July 7 that her brother was arrested on June 12 after being summoned to Tehran's Intelligence Ministry Office.

Parvin Tajik said the family has not heard from her brother since then, saying they have not even had a "phone call."

"When I eventually managed to meet with Tehran's prosecutor, he strangely enough claimed to be ignorant of my brother's whereabouts," Parvin Tajik said.

She added that the prosecutor asked her when and why Abdolreza Tajik was arrested.

"The prosecutor is the only legal authority who can issue arrest warrants," Parvin Tajik noted. "His ignorance [about the case] shows that my brother's arrest was against the law and can therefore be considered an abduction."

She said it also shows that her brother's life is in danger.

Parvin Tajik said she went to look for her brother at Tehran's Evin prison, the notorious jail where political prisoners are often kept. She said she was told her brother's name was not registered at the institution.

Parvin Tajik said she still does not know the charges on which her brother was arrested after he was summoned to the Intelligence Ministry.

A member of the Tehran-based Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), Abdolreza Tajik's latest detainment was the third time he has been arrested since the June 2009 presidential election.

Abdolreza Tajik was first taken into custody shortly after the election and released after 46 days in Evin prison. He was rearrested on December 29.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, who is also the head of the DHRC, told Radio Farda on July 5 that she has grave concerns about Abdolreza Tajik's condition.

"If anything happens to him, [Iran's] judiciary chief is directly responsible," Ebadi said
Officials in the United States and Britain have condemned in harsh terms the reported plan in Iran to execute a woman by stoning her to death.

The condemned woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, is a 43-year-old mother of two who already received 99 lashes after confessing -- reportedly under duress -- for alleged adultery in 2006. A judge later reviewed her case and ordered that she be put to death by stoning.

Her two grown children are campaigning furiously to get authorities to review her case, but say they have gotten nowhere.

Radio Farda and other reports say the imposition of the stoning sentence is "imminent."

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner on July 8 said U.S. officials "condemn in the strongest terms the use of the practice of stoning anywhere it occurs as a form of legalized death by torture." He described the process as "barbaric and an abhorrent act."

Toner added that Washington "call[s] on the Iranian authorities to live up to their due process commitments under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights."

Also on July 8, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "appalled by reports of this imminent execution."

"I think stoning is a medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world, and the continued use of such a punishment in Iran demonstrates, in our view, a blatant disregard for human rights and commitments which [Iran] has previously entered into," Hague told reporters in London.

"I do call on Iran to put an immediate stay to this execution and review the process by which this woman was tried," Hague urged. "And I think if this punishment was carried out, it would disgust and appall the watching world."

Amnesty International, which has repeatedly called on Iran and other countries to stop executions, says it has recorded 126 Iranian executions in the first six months of the year.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has said Ashtiani was in an abusive marriage that led to the murder of her husband by another man with whom she was said to be involved. Both were given 10-year sentences but Ashtiani was additionally sentenced for the extramarital relationship.

written by Andy Heil based on RFE/RL, Radio Farda, and agency reports

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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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