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Iranian activist ends hunger strike as wife freed

Arash Sadeghi will be taken to hospital after his wife Golrokh was temporarily freed [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 January, 2017

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After Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee was released on bail, her husband, Arash Sadeghi, ended his 71-day hunger strike.
An imprisoned Iranian human rights activist ended a 71-day hunger strike on Tuesday as his detained wife won a temporary release from prison, a day after his case sparked a rare unauthorised protest in Tehran.

Arash Sadeghi was to be taken to a hospital, his lawyer Amir Raisian said, while Amnesty International said he would be fed intravenously.

His wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, was temporarily freed for several days in a decision that can be extended, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

The sudden decision comes after a daylong social media campaign with a march on Monday towards Evin prison by dozens of Iranians. Such protests have been rare in Iran after violence that followed the country's disputed 2009 presidential election.

Reformist lawmaker Bahram Parsai said earlier that he and other legislators met with court officials to discuss Sadeghi's case, signalling the growing concern officials had over the campaign.

"It was supposed to solve the case resorting to prudence, in a way that would not be misused by enemies," Parsai said, according to ILNA.

"We do not want such cases to turn into a problem for the system," he said, apparently referring to Western criticism of Iran's human rights record.

Sadeghi is serving a 15-year sentence over charges including "spreading propaganda against the system" and "insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic," according to Amnesty. The London-based advocacy group has said Sadeghi's charges stem in part from his communication with them.

Sadeghi's hunger strike began on October 24 after authorities arrested his wife to make her serve a six-year sentence over an unpublished fictional story found in her home about a woman burning a Quran in anger over another woman being stoned to death for adultery.

"The release of Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee today comes as a welcome relief but is long overdue," Amnesty researcher Nassim Papayianni said in a statement.

"Neither she nor her husband, Arash Sadeghi, should have ever been forced to spend a single minute behind bars."

Dual nationals, artists, poets, journalists, fashion models and activists have been arrested in a crackdown on expression led by hard-liners who oppose President Hassan Rouhani's more moderate policies and efforts to promote greater openness to the outside world. The arrests accelerated with Iran's nuclear deal with world powers.

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