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Political prisoner in Iran dies in jail, activists say

A man serving a five-year jail sentence on political charges in Iran has died in custody, activists say, accusing the authorities of contributing to his death by neglecting his medical conditions.

Sasan Niknafs had since July 2020 been serving a sentence on charges including disseminating “propaganda” against the state and Iran’s leadership, the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) and Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) say in separate statements.

Both say that they held the head of the Iranian judiciary Ebrahim Raisi responsible for his death, the cause of which was not specified.

Raisi is widely expected to win this month’s presidential elections.

Niknafs was imprisoned “despite displaying multiple physical and mental health issues,” including a history of attempted suicide, the CHRI says.

He was “unfit to serve his sentence due to multiple illnesses but judicial authorities had refused his release despite numerous requests,” says the IHR.

It says Niknafs had been suffering from diabetes, epilepsy and depression.

In a statement carried by the judiciary’s news agency Mizan Online, the Tehran prisons service says Niknafs had been serving a five-year sentence without giving details on his charges.

It says that Niknafs had previously informed the prisons service of his suicidal tendencies and had been receiving medical treatment under the supervision of the prisons service.

According to the prison service, Niknafs said he had taken pills given by another prisoner and subsequently fell ill. He was transferred on Saturday to hospital in Tehran where he died.

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