Middle East

Jailed Iranian activist ends hunger strike after wife freed

Woman holds poster with picture of Iranian activist Arash Sadeghi Image copyright Noorizad
Image caption Protesters gathered in Tehran in support of Mr Sadeghi

A jailed Iranian activist has ended a 71-day hunger strike after his wife was granted temporary release from prison.

Arash Sadeghi's lawyer said he would be taken to a hospital and fed intravenously.

Mr Sadeghi's wife, Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, was jailed in 2016 after police discovered an unpublished story she had written in a diary in which a character burns the Koran in protest.

Her release came a day after a rare unauthorised protest in Tehran.

Hundreds of Iranians gathered on Monday for a demonstration outside Evin prison, where the couple were being held.

Ms Ebrahimi Iraee was detained on 24 October after officials raided her home, human rights group Amnesty International said. She had previously been convicted of "insulting Islamic sanctities" and "spreading propaganda against the system".

Her unpublished story described the emotional reaction of a young woman who watches the film The Stoning of Soraya M, which in turn tells the true story of a young woman stoned to death.

Iranian authorities found the piece, written in a private diary, on 6 September 2014.

The couple were initially arrested by men believed to be members of the Revolutionary Guard, Amnesty said.

Ms Ebrahimi Iraee was released after 21 days but she was later tried, with no legal representation, and found guilty in two brief sessions at a Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Amnesty International called the conviction "ludicrous" and the trial "farcical".

Mr Sadeghi meanwhile was sent to Evin Prison where he is serving a 19-year prison term on charges including "spreading propaganda against the system", "gathering and colluding against national security" and "insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic".

Amnesty says Mr Sadeghi is a human rights activist.

His hunger strike began after his wife's arrest last year. Mr Sadeghi claims her sentence was handed to her to further punish him. His lawyer, Amir Raisian, said he had now ended his protest.

As concerns over Mr Sadeghi's health grew last week, an international Twitter campaign to support him - under the hashtag #SaveArash - became a trending topic, even though Twitter is banned in Iran.

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