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Jailed Iranian journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian
An Iranian journalist who wrote to the country's supreme leader alleging widespread rape in prison is seriously ill in jail, his family has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Mehdi Mahmoudian, a journalist and member of the Society for the Defense of Prisoners' Rights, was arrested in September 2009 by Intelligence Ministry forces.

His mother, Fatemeh Alvandi, told Radio Farda on May 31 that one of her son's lungs has almost collapsed due to what she called the torture that he has been subjected to.

But Alvandi said her son is determined to continue the hunger strike despite the deterioration in his health.

Mahmoudian has gone on several hunger strikes in recent months.

Mahmoudian is being held at the Rajaee Shahr prison in Karaj, west of Tehran.

He was placed in solitary confinement after he wrote an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that provided alleged details of widespread rape in the prison.

"Once when he was being interrogated, he received two strong penicillin shots at the same time, as a result of which he had a seizure," Alvandi said.

She added that her son has had occasional seizures ever since that time, and prison doctors say he has developed epilepsy.

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Iranian dissident Ezatollah Sahabi (left) and his daughter, Haleh Sahabi, herself an opposition activist who died today following the funeral of her father.
An Iranian opposition activist has died following the funeral of her father, himself a veteran Iranian dissident.

Some reports suggest Haleh Sahabi's death came after a scuffle with security forces, but that could not be independently verified.

Ezatollah Sahabi, a former member of parliament who was forced into opposition by Iran's ruling clergy in the 1980s, died of a stroke in a Tehran hospital overnight at the age of 81.

Mourners at the funeral of Ezatullah Sahabi today in Tehran
His 54-year-old daughter, Haleh, herself an opposition activist and women's rights campaigner, was imprisoned after antigovernment protests in Iran in 2009.

She had been allowed out of prison to attend her father's funeral in a Tehran suburb.

Opposition websites said she died of a heart attack after falling to the ground in a scuffle with security forces at the June 1 ceremony.

An eyewitness told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that he saw her being hit by security forces in the fracas.

"Ms. Sahabi was holding her father's picture in her hands. Then law-enforcement agency employees came and took away the picture," according to the eyewitness. "She was beaten up violently there and lost consciousness, and she was transferred to the hospital."

Alireza Janeh, a security official at Tehran governor's office, said there were no clashes and that Haleh Sahabi died of heart problems exacerbated by stress and hot weather at the funeral.

RFE/RL's Radio Farda, with 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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