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Ailing journalist unable to pay bail, held for more than 10 months

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern about the danger of continuing to detain journalist Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand after he suffered an attack of dizziness on 19 May 2008 in his cell in Tehran's Evin prison. He has been held since July 2007 and his family is unable to raise the money for his bail, set at 150 million toumen (approx. 145,000 euros).

"There seems to be no limit to the persecution of this journalist," the press freedom organisation said. "Detained and deprived of medical care for nearly a year, Kabovand does not have the resources for such an exorbitant amount of bail. The slowness with which the case is being handled and the pressure to which he is exposed in prison do not augur well for the outcome."

The publication director of the weekly "Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdistan", Kabovand fell from his bunk in Evin prison's No. 8 wing after suddenly feeling very dizzy on 19 May. A fellow inmate who is a doctor examined him and said he could have suffered a "vascular event." But he was not allowed to go to the prison hospital.

His wife told Reporters Without Borders she is very worried as he has high blood pressure. "People who are ill are not treated properly in prison," she said. "He must leave prison quickly in order to receive appropriate treatment."

Kabovand's trial on a charge of "activity against national security" has been postponed three times since his arrest on 1 July 2007 and he has been subjected to a great deal of harassment in prison in an attempt to get him to close the Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights in Kurdistan (which he helped to found in 2006) and to disown its press releases about human rights violations. He was held in an individual cell for the first five months after his arrest.

His lawyer, Nemat Ahmadi, insists that his arrest is illegal. "The case is based on recordings of my client's telephone conversations, but the Iranian constitution forbids this method of surveillance," he told Reporters Without Borders.

Nine journalists are currently detained in Iran, which makes it the Middle East's biggest prison for the media. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic's Supreme Guide, were kept on the Reporters Without Borders list of "Predators of Press Freedom" when it was updated on 3 May.

Updates the Kabovand (Kabudvand) case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/89293

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.@NABEELRAJAB's next hearing for TV interviews is tomorrow. Join the thunderclap to call for his release… https://t.co/AkNAQcZVya