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Iranian Dissident Whose Prison Beatings Left Him Unable to Walk Beaten Again, Lawyer Says

Undated image of Iranian dissident Khaled Pirzadeh, whose lawyer said was beaten again in prison on Sept. 14, 2020, after multiple previous prison beatings that left him in a wheelchair. (VOA Persian)

An Iranian political prisoner who has been beaten multiple times by security agents to the point of needing to use a wheelchair has been beaten again for complaining about his treatment, according to his lawyer.

Speaking to VOA Persian from Iran on Monday, lawyer Ali Sharifzadeh said his client Khaled Pirzadeh had been beaten earlier in the day by an officer of Greater Tehran Penitentiary, where Pirzadeh has been serving a sentence for alleged national security offenses.

Sharifzadeh said Pirzadeh had complained about a plan by security guards to transfer him to another part of the prison, prompting a guard to retaliate by striking the dissident on the knee.

The lawyer said his client had not yet fully recovered from a recent knee surgery to repair damage from a previous beating and had accused the guard of striking the repaired knee deliberately.

Authorities had allowed Pirzadeh to have the knee surgery at a private hospital outside prison last month but forced him to pay for the procedure himself.

Sharifzadeh said his client now needs additional medical treatment for the reinjured knee. He also posted a Twitter message about the latest beating, saying he advised Pirzadeh to file a complaint about it.

Speaking to VOA, Sharifzadeh said the security officer who carried out the apparent beating must be disciplined. “He has no right to assault prisoners,” the lawyer said.

VOA could not independently verify the lawyer’s account.

Iranian state media have been silent about Pirzadeh’s case.

Pirzadeh was arrested in early 2019, accused of writing anti-government slogans, according to Sharifzadeh. After a trial in which the dissident had no access to a lawyer, he was sentenced in May 2019 to five years in prison on charges of assembly and collusion against national security and insulting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian human rights activists previously reported that Pirzadeh was beaten while being detained in 2019 and beaten again in July this year while authorities transferred him from Tehran’s Evin prison to Greater Tehran Penitentiary. Sharifzadeh said the prison transfer was an additional form punishment against his client.

A relative of Pirzadeh also previously told VOA Persian that the July beating caused the dissident to suffer a loss of bladder control and to need a wheelchair for using the bathroom.

Sharifzadeh said it appears some prison officers are trying to intimidate political prisoners through beatings.

“Lawyers of such prisoners also are under pressure in Iran,” he said. “When they publicize information about their clients, security organizations can cause problems for them.”

Iran has detained several human rights defenders in recent years and charged them with national security offenses in relation to their legal work.

One of Iran’s most prominent jailed lawyers is Nasrin Sotoudeh, who began her second hunger strike of this year on August 11 to protest Iran’s treatment of political prisoners, according to her husband. She has been jailed at Evin prison since June 2018 for defending Iranian women who were detained for removing their compulsory hijabs in public defiance of Iran’s ruling clerics.

This article originated in VOA’s Persian service. Click here for the original Persian version of the story.