Issa Saharkhiz

Jailed Iranian journalist Issa Saharkhiz has received an additional two years on top of his three-year prison term.

Iran’s Human Rights Acitivists News Agency (HRANA) reports that the judiciary issued the sentence based on Saharkhiz’s previous journalistic activities.

Shahrkhiz is a prominent government critic and founder of the Society for the Defence of Free Press. He was arrested in July 2009 amid widespread protests over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed victory in the presidential elections.

Last September, he was sentenced to three years in prison for "insulting the leader and propaganda activities against the regime.” He has also been banned from journalistic and political activities for five years and is forbidden to travel abroad for one year.

As a result of the new sentence, he is now serving a five-year prison term.

Recently, Saharkhiz wrote a letter to the new United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur for Iran, Ahmad Shaheed, urging him to visit Iranian prisons and adding that "what is now going on in Iranian prisons is a crime against humanity and is just as bad as Stalin’s inhumane forced labour camps in Siberia."

Amnesty International issued a statement yesterday calling for immediate action in the case of nine Iranian prisoners suffering from very poor health. The rights group called for their immediate release, including Issa Saharkhiz.

Shahrkhiz is currently in Karaj’s Rejaishahr Prison, where authorities have denied him sick leave, despite the doctors’ recommendations.