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Iran: Reporters Without Borders outraged at Siamak Pourzand's treatment in hospital

The organisation will hold the Iranian authorities responsible for the deterioration in the journalist's state of health

Reporters Without Borders has expressed outrage at the treatment in hospital of jailed journalist Siamak Pourzand. The 75-year-old, who is very seriously ill, is chained to his bed by his feet at Tehran's Modares hospital, where he was admitted on 18 April.

The international press freedom organisation called for his immediate release on medical grounds.

"We are revolted at the treatment of Siamak Pourzand. We have protested for years to the Iranian authorities against the harassment of this journalist. We will hold them responsible for the deterioration in his state of health," said the organisation.

"We call for Pourzand's immediate release and we support the family's request for him to be transferred to an independent private hospital," it said.

Pourzand, unable to walk and held up by two warders was brought to the prison visiting room to see his sister on 18 April. Barely able to speak, he nevertheless told her not to sign anything in connection with him. A few hours later warders told her that Pourzand had been transferred to the intensive care unit of Modares Hospital.

Pourzand, who worked as a freelance for several independent newspapers, has been imprisoned since 30 March 2003. He has been deprived of the most basic rights, including that of being able to see his own lawyer. An associate of Tehran's prosecutor-general, Said Mortazavi, has been assigned to defend him.

The journalist has spent months in solitary confinement and suffered physical and psychological torture forcing him to make a confession on television. He is suffering from arthritis in the neck and serious back problems for which he needs an operation. He was left in a coma after a heart attack on 31 March 2004, before being transferred again to Modares Hospital on 18 April.

Pourzand was arrested on 24 November 2001 then sentenced in May 2002 to eight years in prison for "undermining state security through links with monarchists and counter-revolutionaries". He was allowed out on licence on December 2002 before returning to prison in March 2003.

... Payvand News - 4/21/04 ... --

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