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Isa Saharkhiz is now reportedly confined to a wheelchair.
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has written a letter to the UN's high commissioner for human rights in support of jailed Iranian journalist Isa Saharkhiz, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Saharkhiz was detained in mass arrests following the disputed presidential election in June 2009.

Ebadi told RFE/RL on August 29 that in her letter she asks the UN high commissioner, Navi Pillay, to take up Saharkhiz's case.

Ebadi said she believes that cases of abuse of human rights in Iran can and should be considered outside of the country, too, and even in international courts.

She said Saharkhiz had complained about prison conditions and his "illegal arrest by Iranian authorities."

On July 25 Saharkhiz had warned that if his complaint against several members of the Iranian government is not pursued, he would appeal to international bodies.

Ebadi told RFE/RL that Saharkhiz's family says his health has worsened and that he is confined to a wheelchair after being tortured in prison.

"I could not personally meet Mr. Saharkhiz as I am outside Iran. However, I have contact with Nasrin Sotoudeh, Mr. Saharkhiz's lawyer in Iran, and she told me that Mr. Saharkhiz's condition is bad," Ebadi tells RFE/RL. "She also confirmed [the authenticity of] Mr. Saharkhiz's letter to me from Evin prison, which was published on some websites.”

Ebadi said she hopes her letter to the United Nations will be effective and force the Iranian government to live up to its international obligations.

"Some day, the Iranian authorities have to let United Nations human rights rapporteurs go to Iran for inquiries. This letter asks that officials be allowed to meet prisoners like Mr. Saharkhiz, and not only Iranian officials."

Iran's judiciary has yet to issue a verdict in Saharkhiz's case.

Earlier this month, Saharkiz filed a lawsuit against Nokia Siemens, accusing the company of delivering surveillance equipment to Iran that helped the authorities trace his whereabouts through his cell phone.
Vadim Kuramshin
A prominent human rights defender who has drawn attention to problems in Kazakhstan's prisons has been found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to 10 days in jail, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Vadim Kuramshin was sentenced on August 29 by a court in Kokshetau in northern Kazakhstan for verbally insulting a man identified as Denis Sitsko.

Viktor Novikov, a leading member of the unregistered Algha (Forward) Party's branch in Kokshetau, told RFE/RL that the prosecutor first tried to charge Kuramshin with beating Sitsko but failed to provide any evidence to substantiate that charge. Kuramshin was, however, found guilty of insulting Sitsko.

According to Novikov, Kuramshin was taken to a jail in Kokshetau immediately after the verdict was pronounced.

On August 28, Kuramshin called RFE/RL and said that an unknown man had attacked him at a bus station in the city. He said he feared for his safety and freedom.

A prominent Kazakh rights activist and former prisoner, Kuramshin has for several months focused on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan's prisons. His colleagues say his sentencing is politically motivated.

In the last several weeks, numerous prisoners at several Kazakh prisons have self-mutilated themselves to protest poor conditions and alleged beatings and other abuse by prison guards. Kuramshin has served as a liaison between the inmates, their relatives, and the media.

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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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