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Imprisoned Iranian Blogger Begins Hunger Strike

Shahnaz Gholami in 2004
Shahnaz Gholami in 2004
Shahnaz Gholami, an online Iranian journalist and rights activist, has begun a hunger strike in Tabriz city prison.

The editor of the "Azerzan" blog, Gholami was accused of publishing propaganda against the Islamic republic and jeopardizing national security. She was sentenced to six months in prison last month.

Her lawyer, Naghi Mahmudi, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that Gholami began the hunger strike to protest her prison conditions. She has been kept in the same ward with convicted murderers, drug dealers, and prostitutes.

Gholami advocates for women rights as well as for the rights of the Azerbaijani minority in Iran. She was detained for three weeks in 2007 for criticizing a police crackdown on public protests in many cities in northwest Iran. She spent five years in prison for her political activities in the 1980s.

The blogger’s arrest in November came a few days before a pro-government publication, "Sobh-e Sadegh," called the Internet a Western tool of subversion.

In its article, "Sobh-e Sadegh" accused the U.S. government of attacking “the opinions of young Iranians and the world population for its own interests.” Among other “tools of subversion,” the Iranian publication listed RFE/RL, Voice of America, and CNN, as well as Google and Yahoo! search engines.

(by RFE/RL correspondent Farangis Najibullah)

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