Jailed Iranian poet and documentary filmmaker Baktash Abtin has died in detention in a hospital after falling ill with Covid-19 aged 48, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Center for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI).
Abtin was in prison on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “actions against national security.”
“RSF learned with sadness the death of Baktash Abtine,” RSF said on Twitter
on Saturday. “The writer and journalist had been unjustly sentenced to six years in prison and was in detention in hospital, ill with Covid-19 and deprived of the necessary care. RSF blames the high regime’s authorities for his death.”
US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday urged Iranian authorities in a joint letter signed by several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to give Abtin the “best possible medical care” and called for “he and all those unjustly detained for their writing or expression to be immediately and unconditionally released.”
According to HRW, Abtin was put into a medically induced coma on January 1, when HRW said he was continuing “to fight his most recent Covid infection and remains in grave danger.”
On May 15, 2019, Abtin was sentenced to five years imprisonment on charges of “illegal assembly and collusion against national security” and one year for “spreading propaganda against the state.” He began serving his six-year sentence on September 26, 2020, according to the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) in a statement published on its website.
Abtin dedicated his life “to promote freedom of speech and denounce censorship in Iran, and has published numerous books on history, sociology, and literary criticism,” IWA said.