Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, father of political prisoner Hossein Ronaghi has been sentenced to 4 months in prison for sharing information about his son’s illness and his situation in prison.
According to the Kaleme website, Branch 116 of the Tabriz Public (criminal) Court charged Hossein Ronaghi’s father with publishing lies in cyberspace and sentenced him to 4 months in prison based on Article 698 of the Islamic Penal Code and Article 19 of the Islamic Penal Code which was adopted in 2013. The court session for Ahmad Ronaghi was conducted in absentia without his knowledge, or presence of a lawyer on his behalf.
The Tabriz Public Court operating out of its legal jurisdiction, issued the indictment based on claimed evidence provided by the Intelligence Office of East Azerbaijan Province. The Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates that interrogations must be done in the presence of the accused and the resulting documents must be signed. If the accused is illiterate, a trusted witness must sign.
Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, whose son has confronted various illnesses as a direct result of his incarceration, is himself suffering from degenerative eye disease rendering him almost blind in one eye while the other eye has fifty percent vision. He also suffers from heart disease and has undergone surgery several times.
During the past 6 years since the arrest and imprisonment of his son, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki has been summoned to the Tabriz Court numerous times and subjected to high-pressure interrogations in attempts to have him sign false confessions. Hossein Ronaghi’s family is constantly harassed and threatened by the Tabriz Intelligence Agency for publicizing information about the deteriorating health and situation of their incarcerated son. His brother Hassan Ronaghi has received threats to remain silent and his mother was once served with a warrant for talking about her son. His mother Zoleikha Mousavi who continues to speak out about her son despite the threats, recently shared that authorities told her the family’s efforts on behalf their son’s freedom would be futile.
In an interview with Rooz on July 6, a day after Ahmad Ronaghi was served his prison sentence, Zoleikha Mousavi said that even if her husband is taken away, the family will not remain quiet. Hossein Ronaghi’s mother said in the Rooz interview that authorities are aware that according to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code it is unlawful to return her son to prison. She said Hossein Ronaghi’s sentence should be terminated if the judiciary conforms to what is stipulated in this penal code. She added that because of his situation, Hossein Ronaghi has a pardon from the Supreme Leader. She said the IRGC and Intelligence offices told them they are not opposed to releasing her son, yet it seems Hossein Ronaghi is being held due to a personal agenda.
Zoleikha Mousavi said that they were given 10 days to follow up on the court order for her husband. Hossein Ronaghi’s mother stressed that the family has been subjected to unceasing threats to not conduct interviews during the years but they will not back down. For his birthday, Amnesty International, which has declared Hossein Ronaghi a Prisoner Of Conscience, launched an Urgent Action Campaign demanding that he not be returned to prison. Journalism Is Not A Crime was also among international human rights groups asking that the ailing blogger not be returned to prison.
According to reports by CHRR, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, jailed blogger and human rights activist was violently arrested at his home in the city of Malekan near Tabriz on December 13, 2009 during the mass unrest following the contested presidential elections. At the time he used the penname Babak Khorramdin and worked with Iran Proxy, a group that worked towards combating Internet censorship in Iran. His brother Hassan Ronaghi Maleki was also arrested and held in solitary confinement where he was subjected to severe torture to add duress and demoralize his brother. He was released on bail after one month and suffers permanent damage to his neck and spine from the torture. Hossein Ronaghi was held for 13 months in Evin prison’s Ward 2-A [under control of IRGC] where he endured severe physical torture and psychological pressure in an effort to coerce an interview and false televised confession, which he refused. Eventually Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
While he was in perfect health when he was arrested, Ronaghi’s health has rapidly deteriorated throughout the years as a result of the torture, substandard prison conditions in Evin prison and lack of medical attention behind bars. He has endured 4 kidney operations and countless transfers to the hospital and back to prison during this time. The activist has embarked on several hunger strikes behind bars in protest of his situation along with that of other political prisoners. Despite the recommendation by the Official Forensic Office to release Hossein Ronaghi on medical grounds, he has been ordered back to prison after a short furlough. On July 5, 2015, Hossein Ronaghi’s 30th birthday, agents went to his family home and delivered the prison sentence for Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki – issued by a court session that was conducted without their knowledge.