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Hunger-striking journalist released, a second remains in prison

(RSF/IFEX) - Iranian journalist Henghami Shahidi was released from prison on 2 November 2009 on payment of bail of nine million tomans (about 75,000 euros) on the order of the 26th chamber of Tehran's revolutionary court. She had been moved to the hospital wing of Evin prison on 31 October as a result of a week-long hunger strike.

Journalist Fariba Pejoh is still being held in section 209 of the same prison. Her family, who visited her on 2 November, said she had ended her hunger strike, begun on 26 October, because of very serious health problems. One worried family member told Reporters Without Borders, "She is very weak and can no longer bear her prison conditions."

The two women had been on hunger strike for one week. Their lawyer and families recently reported that both were seriously ill and would not be able to hold up much longer.

Shahidi, journalist and editor of the blog Paineveste, was arrested on 29 June and spent 50 days in solitary confinement in section 209 of Evin prison. She told her family on 24 October that she had begun a hunger strike and was refusing to take her medication. Shahidi suffers from heart problems.

Pejoh, a journalist for reformist publications, including "Etemad-e Melli", the INLA news agency and several foreign media, was arrested on 22 August 2009, and then taken to Evin prison. She was also editor of the blog http://www.after-rain.persianblog.ir/ . She began a hunger strike on 26 October to protest her continued imprisonment, which after two months in temporary custody, was extended for a third time. Her lawyer, Nemat Ahmadi, has informed Reporters Without Borders that he has not been able to see his client. The journalist has a serious ulcer and her family is extremely anxious about her health.

"We are holding the chief executive of the judiciary, Hojatoelslam Sadegh Larijani, personally responsible for the state of health of these two journalists, which is the result of their appalling prison conditions," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

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