WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) - During a press briefing on Thursday in Washington DC, an American official asked Iran to release the Kurdish prisoner Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand and other incarcerated writers and journalists.
John Kirby, the Spokesperson for the State Department told the press, "For today’s case for World Press Freedom Day we’re going to highlight Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand, a journalist and human rights activist from Iran who’s been held in Evin prison since July 2007."
"He [Kaboudvand] reported on torture in Iranian prisons, women’s rights issues, and cases of human rights abuses against Iran’s ethnic minorities," Kirby added.
The US official then called on Iran to release Kaboudvand and other prisoners who have been detained "simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression."
Mohammad Sediq Kaboudvand, born in Diwandara (Divandareh), Kurdistan Province, in the northwest of Iran, was the editor of the banned weekly Payam-e mardom-e Kurdistan and the chair of the Tehran-based Kurdistan Human Rights Organization (RMMK).
Because of his journalistic activities, Kaboudvand was named the international journalist of the year at the British Press Award in 2009. When he co-founded the Kurdistan Human Rights Organizations, along with other activists, Kaboudvand documented and publicized widespread human rights’ abuses in the Kurdish areas, committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
He was arrested at his place of work in Tehran in July 1, 2007.
Kaboudvand’s books, computers, photographs and personal documents were confiscated and he spent the first five months of his detention in solitary confinement. His health deteriorated in prison because of abuse and lack of medical care.
"Kaboudvand has reportedly suffered several heart attacks while in custody and has suffered from serious kidney and intestinal problems. Prison authorities have reportedly denied requests to transfer him to a hospital where he can receive treatment appropriate for his illnesses," Kirby added.
Charged with "acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state," he was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
PEN International, Amnesty International, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and its affiliate, the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) have repeatedly called upon Iranian authorities to release Kaboudvand.
Because of his commitment to the protection of human rights, Kaboudvand received international recognition from organizations such New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Last year he also received the International Centre for Human Rights (ICHR) award for his contributions to human rights activism in Iran.
Yet, the pleas and recognition have so far been left unanswered and Kaboudvand remains incarcerated for nine years now. After years, he was allowed to visit his sick son.
Receiving furlough is one of the prisoners’ rights, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the Kurdish activists are often denied the basic rights that other prisoners receive in Evin.
Speaking to the media, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Kaboudvand’s lawyer, echoed the notion that the Kurdish activist had received one of the worst treatments in Evin.
Reporting by Ava Homa
Editing by Delovan Barwari