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Iranian Kurdish Dissident Wins Reprieve from Imminent Execution

Iranian Kurdish dissident Ramin Hossein Panahi is seen in this undated image shared by human rights activists online.

The family of an Iranian Kurdish man sentenced to death for belonging to a Kurdish nationalist group says the dissident has received a reprieve from an expected imminent execution.

Speaking to VOA Persian by phone from Brussels, a brother of dissident Ramin Hossein Panahi said he learned that Ramin had been sent back to a prison Wednesday in the northwestern city of Sanandaj. The Europe-based brother, Amjad Hossein Panahi, previously had said that security agents transported Ramin to an unknown location Tuesday, prompting concerns that he would be executed Thursday.

Amjad said 24-year-old Ramin, who had been on death row at Sanandaj prison, was placed in the prison's public ward Wednesday. He called the move a "positive" step and said family members are hopeful that Ramin will not be executed by Thursday. Amjad also said the family will keep fighting to have Ramin's death sentence lifted.

Amjad said he learned of Ramin's transfer to the public ward of Sanandaj prison from their brother Afshin, who also is jailed at the facility. Amjad said Afshin contacted the family in Sanandaj on Wednesday to report the news of Ramin's return, and family members then called Amjad in Belgium to relay the information.

A U.N. human rights expert had issued a statement earlier Wednesday appealing to Iran to "immediately" halt and annul the death sentence against Ramin. Agnes Callamard, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said her office was concerned about allegations that Ramin had not received a fair trial and was mistreated and tortured in detention.

Ramin Hossein Panahi was arrested in June last year for allegedly belonging to Kurdish nationalist group Komala and drawing a weapon against Iranian security forces who were carrying out a raid in the region. He was sentenced to death by a Revolutionary court in January.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Persian Service.