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Wife Raises Health Alarm Over Jailed Iranian Religious Scholar

Iranian religious scholar and dissident Ahmad Ghabel
Iranian religious scholar and dissident Ahmad Ghabel
The wife of a jailed Iranian religious scholar says she is shocked at his poor state of health after five weeks in prison, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

Ahmad Ghabel at the end of July began serving a 20-month prison sentence in the northeastern city of Mashhad for spreading propaganda against the regime and insulting the supreme leader.

In an interview with Radio Farda on September 4, Ghabel's wife, Marzieh Pasdar, said she was "shocked" when visiting her husband in jail.

"He could barely walk…my daughter and I had to hold his arms to help him; he had to pause three times before reaching the chair," Pasdar said.

She added that her husband could not keep his balance and had vision problems. She said he told her he had been taken to the prison infirmary but could not be diagnosed.

In addition to his prison sentence, Ghabel is also banned for three years from granting interviews and delivering lectures to an audience of more than three persons.

In an interview with Radio Farda in June, Ghabel accused the Iranian leadership of "moral degeneration", saying the authorities in the establishment including the supreme leader insist on lying.

Ghabel has been detained several times before, including in December 2009 when he was on his way to the funeral of leaders dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. He was released on bail after serving nearly six months in Vakilabad prison.

Ghabel was also imprisoned in September 2010. His wife told Radio Farda at the time that the reason for his detention was the information he had published about secret executions carried out in Vakilabad prison.

He was also arrested in 2001 after writing an open letter critical of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and spent 125 days in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin prison.

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