Birthday of Digital Activist Highlights Continued Repression in Iran | Freedom House

Birthday of Digital Activist Highlights Continued Repression in Iran

Washington

Freedom House marks the birthday today of Iranian blogger and human rights activist Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence. His continued incarceration serves as a reminder of the plight of Iranian political prisoners, and the regime’s unrelenting crackdown on its citizens for peaceful activism.

“It is deplorable that Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki will spend his 26th birthday in Iran’s notorious Evin prison,” said Freedom House president, David J. Kramer. “Hossein is a courageous voice against the Iranian regime’s censorship, and his personal struggle for internet freedom and human rights is admirable. Freedom House is proud to stand in solidarity with him and all of the political prisoners who continue to suffer in Iranian prisons.”

Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki is an Iranian human rights and digital activist who became famous under the pseudonym “Babak Khorramdin.” An internet freedom advocate in Iran, Hossein challenged the regime’s censorship by creating proxies and other circumvention tools that enabled Iranians to access the internet and report news and human rights abuses. He supported the work of human rights groups and engaged citizens with his extensive technical knowledge. Hossein’s blog and digital activism were particularly important in the aftermath of the stolen June 2009 presidential election, when the regime’s repression became even more brutal and widespread.

It was for these peaceful activities that Hossein was arrested in December 2009. After enduring a show trial and attempted forced confessions, Hossein was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Judge PirAbassi of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court. His sentence was later upheld by the appeals court.

During his time in prison, Hossein has suffered abuse at the hands of the Iranian authorities. He has been interrogated under duress, spent over ten months in solitary confinement, and currently suffers from health problems. Previously, the prison authorities repeatedly denied him medical attention. This April, Hossein was transferred to Hashemi Nejad Hospital in Tehran, but he has now been transferred back to Evin Prison despite his continued need for medical attention.

Although the regime denies holding any political prisoners, human rights groups have been able to identify around 1,100 to date.

Freedom House was joined by U.S. Senators Robert P. Casey and Mark Kirk who expressed their concern and support for Hossein. Read a letter sent by Senator Casey here and watch a videotaped message by Senator Kirk here.

Iran is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.

For more information on Iran, visit:

Freedom in the World 2011: Iran
Freedom on the Net 2011: Iran

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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