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Masoud Bastani is serving a six-year jail term
A jailed Iranian journalist was briefly hospitalized after being severely beaten by a prison guard on June 2, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The mother of journalist Masoud Bastani, 31, his wife, and mother-in-law witnessed the beating in the Rajaishahr prison in the city of Karaj. They say Bastani asked the guards if he could talk with his visiting relatives for a few minutes longer.

"As the visiting hours were drawing to an end, Masoud asked for a couple of more minutes so he could say his goodbyes to us all, then a guard grabbed him by the collar and banged his head against the wall," Bastani's mother, Masoumeh Malouol, told Radio Farda on June 2.

Malouol said the guard continued beating him even while he lay motionless on
the ground. "A guard should not be allowed to hit a prisoner who is already
serving a prison term."

Malouol said when she spoke to her son after the incident he had been taken to the hospital when he lost consciousness.

Bastani's wife, Mahsa Amarabadi, told Radio Farda that she went to several hospitals in Karaj to search for her husband. Staff at an unnamed hospital told her he had been brought there and treated for minor head injuries before being discharged.

Amarabadi said none of Bastani's relatives has seen him since the beating.

Malouol said they are allowed to visit Bastani once a week, but he has not been granted any leave during the two years he has been in prison.

"On top of everything, they were assaulting my son in front of me," she said, adding that she finds such behavior "utterly inhumane."

She said other prison guards did their best to stop the guard from hitting her son and finally led him away. "But my eyes could see nothing except my son lying motionless on the ground holding his head in his hands," she added.

Bastani's mother said she does not hold the guard responsible, as he might have been following orders, but rather faults the system that allows him to act as he did.

"I hold the prosecutor responsible, who claims jurisdiction over these prisoners but has sent them to serve their terms in unsupervised prisons under such conditions," she said.

Bastani was arrested during the unrest that followed the disputed presidential election in June 2009 and found guilty of propaganda against the government, creating unrest, and disturbing public order. He was then given the six-year jail term.
Fifty-four-year-old Haleh Sahabi died after being struck by security forces, according to at least one eyewitness and opposition sources.
The U.S. State Department has condemned the death of an Iranian activist during her father's funeral, saying the death was the result of "reprehensible actions" by Iranian security forces.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner issued a statement declaring the death of 54-year-old activist Haleh Sahabi "a killing" and calling for an independent investigation.

Sahabi died on June 1 while attending the funeral of her father, who had been jailed by the regime on several occasions.

Opposition sources and an eyewitness who spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Farda claimed that Sahabi never got up after a scuffle with security officers who appeared to be trying to interfere in the ceremony.

Authorities later detained some of the mourners at the funeral, Farda reported.

Iran's government-run media reported that she suffered a heart attack.

Haleh had been imprisoned following Iran's presidential elections in 2009 for supporting allegations that the reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad had been rigged.

She was temporarily released to attend the funeral of her father, himself a critic of the Iranian government.

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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