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Kouhyar Goudarzi
A few hundred inmates at Tehran's Evin prison are reported to have been denied phone calls since 17 of them launched a hunger strike in late July, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

There are an estimated 200 political prisoners in Evin prison's Ward 350, many of them journalists, students, and civil activists who were arrested during the crackdown following the controversial June 2009 presidential election.

Seventeen of them went on a hunger strike in late July to protest what they called mistreatment by prison guards and the violation of their rights. Although the strike is over, the prisoners are still deprived of making phone calls to their families, the mother of one prisoner told RFE/RL.

Parvin Mokhtare, mother of hunger-striking human rights activist and journalist Kouhyar Goudarzi, told RFE/RL that the prisoners' families have no news about their children, even those who did not participate in the hunger strike.

She said prisoners have been told they will be allowed to make phone calls only if they write a letter of recantation.

It's unclear if the apparent ban on phone calls applies to all prisoners held in Ward 350 or political prisoners only.

According to the opposition Kalemeh website, the authorities have ordered prisoners to write a letter expressing remorse for protesting against mistreatment by prison guards and for launching the hunger strike. Prisoners have also been told to ask for forgiveness from prison authorities.
A widely circulated photo that Iranian opposition groups claim is from an Iranian stoning.
Iran has warned foreign countries against interference in its legal system and told them to stop trying to turn the case of a woman sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery into a human rights issue.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said today that the furor was based on false information about Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's case.

Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two was condemned to death for illicit sex and charged with involvement in her husband's murder.

Her case has provoked an international outcry.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the European Parliament in Strasbourg today he was outraged by the sentence.

"I am appalled when I hear that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is sentenced to death by stoning," Barroso said. "This is barbaric beyond words," he added to sustained applause. "In Europe, we condemn such acts, which have no justification under any moral or religious code."

Iranian news reports have suggested the stoning sentence might be lifted, but that Ashtiani could still be hanged.

* CORRECTION: The photo caption has been amended to point out that the photograph above is purported to be an Iranian stoning according to Iran opposition claims, thanks to a heads-up from a sharp-eyed reader.

compiled from 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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