August 10, 2005

Iran dissident Ganji still on hunger strike -paper

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Dissident Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji
is still on hunger strike, a hospital official was quoted as
saying on Wednesday, contradicting an official from the
conservative judiciary who said he was eating again.

Judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad said on Tuesday Ganji
had ended his eight-week hunger strike after calls from his
family and friends, who were concerned that he could die.

But Sirus Tabesh, head of public relations at Tehran's
Milad hospital, said this was incorrect.

"Ganji is not consuming any food," he told the Sharq daily
newspaper. "Ganji's condition would become critical if his
situation goes on as it is now."

The 46-year-old former Revolutionary Guard turned reformist
was imprisoned in 2001 after writing a string of stories
linking officials to the murder of political dissidents.

He began his hunger strike in June to pressure the
judiciary to grant him an unconditional release. He was moved
to Tehran's Milad hospital and is kept under guard. Last month
his health seriously deteriorated.

Sharq newspaper also quoted Shahaboddin Sadr, the head of
Iran's coroner's office, saying Ganji's health was now stable.

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

A relative said Ganji's family was not immediately able to
confirm whether he had broken his hunger strike or not as they
had been denied access to him since Aug 1.

Ganji's wife was quoted by the ISNA students news agency
saying her husband receives serums whenever his condition
becomes critical.

She said he was being given intravenous drips but on Friday
developed a blood clot in his left arm.