Omidreza Mirsayafi

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Mirsayafi, 28, author of the cultural news blog, Rooznegar, died in Tehran’s Evin Prison,
where he was serving a 30-month term on charges of insulting Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979

Prison officials said Mirsayafi had committed suicide, the
journalist’s lawyer, Muhammad Ali Dadkhah, told the U.K.’s Times Online. Dadkhah‎ said Mirsayafi ‎had expressed concerns about
his health, “but the doctors there didn’t take this seriously and said he was
faking it.” The journalist, convicted in November 2008, had begun serving his
prison term in February 2009.

Hissam Fairoozy, an inmate, told Human Rights Activists in
Iran (HRAI) that Mirsayafi had suffered from depression and had been taking
antidepressant medications. Fairoozy, a physician, said that he was concerned
about his fellow inmate’s condition and had unsuccessfully sought to have
prison doctors hospitalize him.

Mirsayafi’s brother, Amirparviz, disputed claims that the
journalist suffered from depression. He told the U.S. government-funded Voice
of America (VOA) on March 28 that his brother had no history of taking
antidepressant medications. He also said that his brother’s body showed signs
of abuse, including a left ear that “was covered with blood.” VOA posted a
photo of Mirsayafi’s face, which showed facial bruises.

The government did not publicly disclose any details about
Mirsayafi’s death.

Mirsayafi, in an interview with HRAI after being
sentenced, said he had been coerced into making a false confession. He said the
court didn’t specify the blog entries that it considered offensive. An
unidentified Iranian blogger told the Times
 that the journalist’s imprisonment may have been linked to an
entry in which he questioned Iranian support for Hezbollah.