Life for the family of jailed Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki has taken a turn for the worse: now his father Ahmad has been sentenced to four months behind bars, according to Payvand Iran News.
Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki has been campaigning for his son’s release since he was sent to jail in 2009 on the charge of spreading propaganda against the government during presidential election riots. Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, who used the nickname Babak Khorramdin, is known to be a bright decisive political dissident.
The senior Maleki has reportedly threatened to set himself on fire, in an effort to draw attention to his son’s case.
Six years through a 15-year-sentence, the younger Maleki is currently on medical leave, but due to return to jail any day now. According to the International Human Rights Campaign in Iran, he suffers from kidney and stomach illnesses.
He had passionately blogged about the disputed elections, which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected in an alleged landslide victory. The opposition candidate Hossein Mousavi cried foul, and despite a government ban on protesting, hundreds took to the streets, where they clashed with riot police. Maleki’s work highlighted rising concerns in his country over peaceful reform.
The case of the soft-faced, gentle-mannered Maleki continues to attract much attention. Amnesty International has warned that if he returns to prison after medical treatment, he will become a prisoner of conscience, meaning his only crime was attempting to exercise his right of free expression.
The arrest of his father Ahmad, for allegedly spreading false information about his son’s case, is the latest blow to the long-suffering family. Two years ago Maleki’s hunger strike brought him dangerously close to death. He has hundreds of supporters in prison, who have petitioned the government for his release through sustained letter-writing.
According to Freedom House, Iran’s media environment is one of the most stifled in the world. In the lead-up to the 2012 parliamentary elections, dozens of journalists were beaten, subjected to unfair trials and unfairly imprisoned.