Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is urging Iranian authorities to release from prison three journalists who it said are being denied appropriate medical care after “almost certainly” catching COVID-19 while in detention.
Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and Kayvan Samimi Behbahani “must be freed at once,” the Paris-based media freedom watchdog said on May 7.
Abtin and Mahabadi are members of the Association of Iranian Writers, which has come under pressure by authorities who have summoned, threatened, and jailed its members.
Behbahani is the editor of Iran-i Farda (Tomorrow's Iran), the magazine of the Council of Nationalist-Religious Activists of Iran, a political group that presents itself as a "nonviolent, religious semi-opposition."
The three are serving sentences ranging from three to six years in prison on charges including anti-state propaganda and acting against Iran’s security.
The 48-year-old Abtin was transferred to the infirmary of Tehran’s Evin prison on April 4 with a serious pulmonary condition that was confirmed by X-ray, according to RSF.
It said Mahabadi, 59, and Behbahani, 72, also have COVID-19 symptoms and “their condition is also very worrying.”
Behbahani already served six years in prison after a previous arrest in 2009.