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United Nations experts call on Iran to release activist with COVID-19

United Nations experts call on Iran to release activist with COVID-19
Iranian Narges Mohammadi (R), of the Center for Human Rights Defenders, listens to Karim Lahidji (L), president of the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights in Geneva Switzerland on June 9, 2008. United Nations experts have called for her to be released from prison Wednesday. Photo by Magali Girardin/EPA

July 22 (UPI) -- A group of 16 United Nations human rights experts called on Iran Wednesday to release activist Narges Mohammadi who they believe has contracted the coronavirus while in a Tehran prison.

Mohammadi, who has been in Iranian custody since 2015, is serving a 16-year term in Tehran's Zanjan Prison after she was sentenced in 2016. They said she was convicted on charges connected with her human rights work.

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"We are extremely concerned for Ms. Mohammadi's well-being," the experts said in a statement. "We previously raised concerns that she and other individuals in Iranian prisons are at great risk if they contract COVID-19 and we called for their immediate release."

Mohammadi showed symptoms of the coronavirus on June 29 and was hospitalized on July 5. She has continued to deteriorate physically since, the experts said. They asked for Iranian authorities to give Mohammadi the results of the COVID-19 test she took on July 8.

"For those with underlying health conditions, such as Ms. Mohammadi, it may have life-or-death consequences," the experts said. "The Iranian authorities must act now before it is too late."

The experts said they are concerned that Mohammadi may be just one of numerous similar cases in Iranian prisons where those in custody were receiving little attention for the coronavirus.

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U.N. experts who signed the request include Javaid Rehman, Mary Lawlor, Agnes Callamard, Leigh Toomey, Elina Steinerte, Jose Guevara Bermúdez, Seong-Phil Hong, Setondji Adjovi, David Kaye, Elizabeth Broderick, Melissa Upreti, Alda Facio, Meskerem Geset Techane, Ivana Radacic, Nils Melzer and Diego García-Sayan.

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