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Jailed Iranian Blogger Dies; Others Arrested


Iranian authorities announced a broad crackdown on obscene and anti-Islamic Web sites, as the lawyer for a jailed Iranian blogger says the young man has died while imprisoned in Tehran.

Blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi was serving a 30-month sentence for insulting Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The blogger's lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, says officials informed him that Mirsayafi died Wednesday at the notorious Evin prison.

Dadkhah says a doctor jailed along with Mirsayafi said the young man was very depressed, and that prison officials did not help him.

In another development, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reports authorities have detained some people for allegedly setting up Web sites that are seen as anti-revolutionary, anti-religious or obscene.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said its intelligence arm is involved in the crackdown.

Fars reports that these Web sites had support from foreign entities.

The U.S. State Department's 2008 report on human rights said non-governmental organizations had reported an increase in Tehran's control over the Internet as more Iranians used it as source for news and debate. The rights report also made note of Mirsayafi's case.

Reporters Without Borders said it recently received an e-mail from Mirsayafi in which he wrote that he was a sensitive person and did not think he had the energy to spend more than two years in prison.

Human rights groups say they learned of the blogger's death from his attorney.

Reporters Without Borders says it holds Iranian authorities responsible, saying they failed to provide the man with the medical care he needed. It also called for an independent inquiry into the incident.

Mirsayafi was first arrested in April of 2008, and he served 41 days in jail. In December, an Iranian court sentenced him to 30 months in prison.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Mirsayafi once described himself as a cultural and not a political blogger. He said few of his blogs were satirical, and that he never meant to insult anyone.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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