Iranian blogger dies in prison

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An Iranian blogger who was reportedly jailed for "insulting" the country's leaders has died in a Tehran prison, say human rights groups.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Omidreza Mirsayafi, 29, died earlier this week in Evin prison in the Iranian capital. He is the second Iranian political prisoner to die in two weeks: on 6 March, Amir Saran, a prisoner serving an eight-year sentence for political activities, died of a stroke. His family and associates have alleged negligence and lack of proper care by prison officials caused his death.

Dr Hesam Firoozi, a doctor imprisoned with Mr Mirsayafi, told a human rights group in Iran that the blogger had taken extra doses of his medication. He said Mr Mirsayafi, who was serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence, was suffering from severe depression, and the prison doctors failed to provide adequate care by not sending him to a hospital immediately.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Mr Mirsayafi was first arrested on 22 April 2008 and was released on bail after 41 days. He then went on trial in November 2008, accused of insulting the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and, "making propaganda against the state". It said Mr Mirsayafi's blog had mainly focused on "traditional Persian music and ... culture", and called for an independent investigation into the death.

Hadi Ghaemi, of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said: "Iranian leaders have relegated the administration of the prison system to a group of incompetent and cruel officials who are showing their utter disregard for human life".

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