August 9, 2005

Iran dissident Ganji stops hunger strike-judiciary

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Jailed Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji
has broken his eight-week-old hunger strike after calls by
family and friends concerned about his deteriorating health, a
judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday.

"Thankfully his condition is better than before ... He has
recently broken his hunger strike," he said.

"It seems that this was due to the requests made by other
people for him to end his hunger strike."

Ganji's plight has provoked comments of outrage and concern
from the United States, the European Union and numerous human
rights groups.

The 46-year-old was imprisoned in 2001 after writing a
string of stories linking officials to the murder of political

He began his hunger strike in June to pressure the
judiciary to grant him unconditional release. He was moved to a
Tehran hospital, where he is kept under guard, last month as
his health seriously deteriorated.

A relative, reached by phone at Ganji's home in Tehran,
could not confirm he had ended his hunger strike.

"We haven't been able to see him since last Monday (Aug. 1)
so how can we possibly confirm or deny" the report, he said,
accusing authorities of preventing family members from visiting
Ganji in hospital.

"The whole family are strongly asking him to stop his
hunger strike because his health is our main concern," he

Ganji's lawyers, 2003 Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and
Yousef Molai, were also unaware that Ganji had broken his
hunger strike. "I pray that it is true," Molai told Reuters.