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Condition of hunger-striking Iranian dissident worsening, warns brother

Prominent anti-regime figure Hossein Ronaghi, who was arrested last month, moved to a medical facility within Evin prison

Screen capture from video of the arrest of prominent Iranian dissident Hossein Ronaghi, September 2022. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of the arrest of prominent Iranian dissident Hossein Ronaghi, September 2022. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

PARIS, France — The health condition has “worsened” of a prominent Iranian dissident who was arrested in September as protests swept the country and who is now on hunger strike, his brother said on Sunday.

Hossein Ronaghi, an outspoken freedom of speech campaigner, has been transferred to a medical facility within Tehran’s Evin prison, his brother Hassan wrote on Twitter.

Ronaghi has been held at Evin since his arrest on September 24. His family says he risks dying due to a kidney condition and that both his legs have been broken in prison.

He has been on a hunger strike and was set to begin refusing water Saturday to protest authorities’ denying him medical leave, his brother had said previously.

“Hossein’s condition worsened and he was transferred to Evin prison clinic,” Hassan Ronaghi wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

He accused prosecutors of blocking his release “under false pretenses” and of instead seeking “to kill Hossein.”

Renowned Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, who are jailed with Ronaghi in Evin, had already expressed concern for his life, warning he could suffer a heart attack at any moment.

“According to the prison doctors, the risk of cardiac arrest is now very high,” they said in a letter published by the Iran Wire news site.

“There is a possibility at any moment of the heartbreaking repeat” of the death in custody of a political prisoner, they added.

Ronaghi is one of dozens of prominent rights activists, journalists and lawyers who have been arrested in the crackdown on protests that erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by the morality police.

A contributor to The Wall Street Journal, Ronaghi, 37, has for years been one of the most fearless critics of the Islamic republic still living in the country.

Security forces made a first attempt to arrest him on September 22 while he was giving a live television interview to London-based Iran International television, but he managed to slip out of his apartment, he said at the time.

He came out of hiding two days later but was immediately arrested, along with his lawyers.

Shocking images later emerged of the arrest, with Ronaghi put into a chokehold and hauled away when he presented himself at a prosecutors’ office.

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