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Jailed Iranian Filmmaker Hospitalized, Family Members Detained

Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has been hospitalized due to internal bleeding, reportedly caused by his hunger strike.
Jailed Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad has been hospitalized and members of his family including his wife have been detained, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Nourizad's wife Fateme Maleki, their children, and his elderly parents were detained outside Evin prison on December 16 as they tried to find out which hospital he had been taken to.

Maleki told Radio Farda minutes before her detention that she had been informed only that his condition deteriorated last night.

He is reportedly suffering from internal bleeding after six days on hunger strike.

She said she and other family members waited all day at Evin prison hoping for news.

"We did not know where else to go, and Evin prison seems the only place that should be answerable to us," she said.

Maleki told Radio Farda that her husband had said earlier that "the authorities would watch him die on Ashura," the religious festival, marked on December 16, that commemorates the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein.

"It is unfortunate that the authorities merely watched and waited until now before taking action over his serious medical condition," she added.

Many people had tried to persuade Nourizad to end his hunger strike, including former President Mohammad Khatami; Nourizad's cellmate Mostafa Tjzadeh; Azam Taleghani, daughter of a renowned lawyer; and Zahra Rahnavard, wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi.

Nourizad was detained in December 2009 after publishing several open letters critical of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail and 50 lashes on charges of insulting the supreme leader and spreading antistate propaganda.

He was released on bail in June this year but was returned to Evin prison two months later after he wrote another open letter critical of Khamenei.

Meanwhile, four more political prisoners at Evin are also on hunger strike: lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh; Reza Shahabi, a leading member of the Tehran and Suburban Bus Drivers' Union; student activist Arash Sadeghi; and Gholam Hussein Arshi, who was detained for participating in the post-presidential election protests in 2009.

Sotoudeh's husband Reza Khandan told Radio Farda he has received no news of her condition since she began her most recent hunger strike.

"I have absolutely no updates on her condition. I went to the prison today as visits are granted on Thursdays, but because of the religious holiday, I was unable to [see her]," Khandan said.