June 7, 2012 | By Jillian C. York

Grave Concern for Iranian Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki

Editor's note: On Tuesday, June 12, it was reported (in Persian) that Ronaghi Maleki had ended his hunger strike and that his demands had been met.

Nearly halfway through 2012, Iran's escalating campaign against freedom of expression--which we wrote about back in January--continues. The latest story to emerge from the country is that of Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a blogger who has recently embarked on a hunger strike in protest of his 15-year prison sentence as well as authorities' refusal to grant him prison leave despite a severe medical condition. According to Amnesty International, Ronaghi Maleki developed kidney disease while in prison, has undergone at least four operations, and now requires another to remove his left kidney.

Ronaghi Maleki is yet another casualty of Iran's war against freedom of expression. Arrested in December 2009 at the age of 27, he was taken to Tehran's Evin Prison, where he spent 376 days in solitary confinement before being sentenced to fifteen years in prison for the crimes of "spreading propaganda against the regime," "membership of the Internet group Iran Proxy" and "insulting the Iranian supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and the president [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad]."

Today, supporters of the young blogger are raising awareness on Twitter using the hashtag #SaveMaleki, which Amnesty International has incorporated into a letter-writing campaign, encouraging supporters to write to officials demanding Ronaghi Maleki's immediate release. Details on joining Amnesty's campaign are available here.

Hossein Ronaghi Maleki is a prisoner of conscience, his "crime" the peaceful exercise of expressing himself online. EFF supports Amnesty International's call for Ronaghi Maleki's immediate and unconditional release.

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