On Monday, two weeks before her October 26 due
date, Paola Gourley, the wife of jailed Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, at left, was rushed to the hospital
after she suffered bleeding due to stress. From the London Metropolitan
Hospital, her pleas for the release for her husband—who is nearing his 120th
day in prison in Iran—on humanitarian grounds so that he may be there for his
child’s birth, a potentially complicated one, have taken on new urgency.
I saw Paola just three days before, when I
visited her at home in London.
At the time, she expressed concerns about making it through the next few weeks
until her scheduled caesarian. She had already gone to the hospital three times
in the course of her pregnancy due to heavy bleeding. Mostly she felt
disbelief, despair and frustration at how hard it was to get information on Bahari’s
case let alone any indication of when he might be released. Bahari, who was arrested
by Iranian security officials on June 21 while on assignment for Newsweek magazine, is one of one of
dozens of journalists being held without official charge in the wake of a
crackdown after Iran's
disputed June 12 presidential elections.
Paola and her husband met several years ago at
an event at the Frontline Club, a London
organization for media professionals. Paola, a lawyer, was interested in
getting more involved in human rights work. Bahari offered her the chance to
join him on some documentary film projects and they hit it off. She didn’t
imagine she would soon find herself at the very heart of a major
human rights story, and leading a 24/7 campaign to win the release of her
own husband, a political prisoner.
Friends and family have been generous, Paola
says, and she has everything she needs for the upcoming birth, everything
except the most important thing: the baby’s father by her side. Despite the
circumstances, this is something she still has hope for.
(Reporting from Heswall, England.)