WASHINGTON — In response to reports that Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki, an Iranian Internet freedom activist imprisoned for ‘insulting’ the Iranian supreme leader, may be close to death in his hunger strike, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) issued the following statement:
“I am deeply concerned about the health of Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki, a political prisoner in Iran who is suffering from kidney problems. I urge the Iranian Government to provide Mr. Ronaghi-Maleki with the immediate and appropriate medical care that he has requested and has so far been denied. The fact that Mr. Ronaghi-Maleki is in jail at all shows what a travesty justice is in Iran today. As one of the earliest challengers of Iran’s heavy-handed censorship of the Internet, Mr. Ronaghi-Maleki came under immense political pressure and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.. This sentence should not by default become a death sentence. The purposeful deprivation of medical care for Mr. Ronaghi-Maleki and other political prisoners is a gross violation of human rights and should be stopped immediately.”
“In the past few years repressive governments have transformed the Internet from a freedom plaza to a dictator’s best friend. Every day we learn of more democratic activists being arrested through the use of a growing array of Internet censorship and surveillance tools, abused by the governments of Iran, China, Belarus, Egypt, Syria and many other countries around the world. The stakes are life and death for online activists and they deserve our support and protection.”
Chairman Smith is the sponsor of the Global Online Freedom Act of 2012 (H.R. 3605). The bill is designed to help democratic activists and human rights defenders by creating a new transparency standard for U.S. Internet companies. The bill also restricts the flow of U.S. technology to repressive regimes. Click here for the text of H.R. 3605.