Iranian political prisoner dies, allegedly from medical misconduct

"When you jail an innocent person for his beliefs and opposition, and he dies, this death is not an ordinary death; this is murder."

A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison June 13, 2006.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Severely-ill Iranian political prisoner Sasan Niknafs died on Saturday in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary due to alleged medical misconduct carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s prisoner authorities, according to Iranian civil activist Hossein Ronaghi, who posted about the matter on his Instagram page on Monday.
“Sasan Niknafs has been killed in prison. This was not a normal death. When you jail an innocent person for his beliefs and opposition, and he dies, this death is not an ordinary death; this is murder,” reads the post, according to a translation by IranWire.
IranWire reported on Tuesday that Niknafs’s death was confirmed by his lawyer, Ali Sharifzadeh. The lawyer, according to  the London-based Iran International news organization, said on Wednesday that he has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Niknafs’ family for “premeditated murder.”
“No one, not even his family, knows about his condition,” adding, “his inmates have described his condition during the transfer to the hospital as very worrying,” Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist, wrote in an Instagram post.
“Sasan had endured difficult conditions for 18 months, struggling with depression and repeated suicide attempts behind bars. Despite having a letter warning he was not fit for prison, he was kept there nonetheless, and was treated by prison medical staff at least four times before he was taken to an unnamed hospital. There or before his arrival, he died without his family aware or around him,” added IranWire.
Iran imprisoned Niknafs for articles he posted on Instagram that showed support for Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi who currently lives in the US. The regime also accused Sasan of criticizing the Islamic theocratic state and “putting slogans on banknotes,” according to IranWire’s translation.
The formal charges against Niknafs, who was arrested in August 2019, were “conspiracy and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the Leader.”
The Iranian regime’s opaque judiciary system sentenced Niknafs to an eight-year prison sentence. The death of Niknafs coincides with the negotiations between Iran’s regime and the world powers in Vienna about bringing Tehran  into compliance with the 2015 nuclear accord. Human rights provisions are not part of the atomic deal.
The Islamic Republic’s judiciary’s news agency, Mizan, said “during a conversation that [Sasan Niknafs] had with the doctor he said he had taken several pills from one of the prisoners and after taking them, his condition deteriorated. He had a seizure again, and according to the doctor’s diagnosis, the prisoner was rushed to Firouzabadi Hospital immediately at 5:20 p.m., where he eventually died.”
Sharifzadeh told IranWire that the authorities “didn’t even tell us which hospital it was; some said Imam Khomeini, others Loghman. Some of the information even indicated that he actually died in the prison medical center after they failed to resuscitate him.”
He added that the judiciary was seeking to depict Niknafs’s death as a “suicide” to avoid being held responsible for his death by human rights organizations.
The Australian Middle East academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was imprisoned in the Islamic Republic for two years on trumped-up charges, told the 2021 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, that Iran’s regime has a “horrific record on human rights.”
Moore-Gilbert said she saw the “devastating impact of a corrupt justice system up-close and first-hand.”

Two common features of Iranian justice “are its reliance on false confessions and arbitrary detention.” She noted “like many innocent Iranian prisoners before me I was subjected to the psychological torture of solitary confinement” to pressure me to make a false confession.