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.)