Jailed Iran activist seeks medical treatment

Narges Mohammadi was spokeswoman for the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran -- founded by lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2003 -- when she was arrested and imprisoned in May 2015 (AFP Photo/BEHROUZ MEHRI)

Tehran (AFP) - Jailed Iranian human rights activist and journalist Narges Mohammadi, who suffers from a lung condition, has requested temporary release from prison for medical treatment, her lawyer told AFP Saturday.

Mahmoud Behzadi-Rad said he was also preparing a new parole application for Mohammadi, a previous request having been denied in late 2019.

But the activist faced new legal proceedings and was "under investigation" as part of a dossier with unspecified contents, for which no "indictment has... yet been issued", he said.

Since March, more than 100,000 detainees in Iran have been granted temporary release or sentence remissions to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Islamic republic's prisons.

Mohammadi, 48, is a campaigner against the death penalty and was the spokeswoman for the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran -- founded by lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi -- when she was arrested in May 2015.

The mother-of-two is serving a 10-year prison sentence for "forming and managing an illegal group", among other charges.

According to the international press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF), she was "forcibly" transferred in late December from Evin prison in Tehran, where she had been held since 2015, to Zanjan in northwest Iran.

"I'm preparing a letter to the prosecutor's office in which we state three specific requests. The first is the transfer of Ms Mohammadi from Zanjan to Tehran, where she lived and worked," Behzadi-Rad said.

"My second request is for medical leave for treatment in view of my client's multiple illnesses, including pulmonary, which must be checked regularly," the lawyer added, saying his client "did not have access to specialist doctors in Zanjan".

He said he was also preparing a new application for parole on the basis of time already served.

Iran is ranked 173 out of 180 countries in the 2020 edition of RSF's World Press Freedom Index.