New York, March 19, 2009--The Committee to Protect Journalists called today for an immediate investigation into the March 18 death of an Iranian blogger imprisoned in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.
Omidreza Mirsayafi's lawyer,
Muhammad Ali Dadkhah, told the UK's Times
Online that prison officials told him that his client had committed
suicide. Dadkhah said that before his death, Mirsayafi
Mirsayafi, 28, whose
writing appeared on the now-defunct cultural blog, Rooznegar,
"We are alarmed by
the sudden death of blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi and demand an immediate,
transparent investigation into what happened," said
Mirsayafi was arrested in April 2008 and
charged with insulting the fouding leaders of the Islamic Republic and denigrating
Islam, according to a local organization called Human Rights Activists in Iran
(HRAI). An Iranian blogger told the Times Online that the reason
for Mirsayafi's imprisonment was linked to an entry he had
written in which he questioned
Iranian-American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi is currently being held in Evin prison. She has been detained since late January. Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan has also been detained since November 2008, but his whereabouts remain unknown. At least five Iranian journalists, not including Saberi and Derakhshan, were serving time in various Iranian prisons as of December 1, 2008, according to CPJ research.
"Mirayafi's death greatly increases our concern for Roxana Saberi's well-being," Abdel Dayem said.
Editor's note: The original text of this alert has been charged to correct the last name of the victim, Omidreza Mirsayafi.