Pourseifi has lost 80 percent of his eyesight since being imprisoned in 2011 on a five and a half year sentence for cooperation with the Human Rights Activists News Agency. He is in need of open heart surgery, and is suffering from rheumatism. His symptoms have been exacerbated by the fact that authorities refused to transfer him to a hospital for several months after his health began to deteriorate.
In addition to the medical examiners’ opinion, Pourseifi’s family presented 135,000 dollars’ worth of collateral for a few days’ furlough in January. But in both cases, authorities have refused to follow through with his release.
Incidents like this are quite commonplace among Iranian political prisoners. Medical problems often result from harsh treatment and poor conditions in Iranian prisons, but inmates are routinely denied access to basic medical care, in what is internationally recognized as a violation of their human rights. Human rights activist groups have brought attention to numerous cases much like Pourseifi’s in the past.
This apparently punitive denial of medical treatment was used, for instance, against Washington Post correspondent and American-Iranian dual citizen Jason Rezaian, who has been held without a public description of the charges against him since July. The Tower points out that Rezaian was eventually given treatment for an infection that he had developed, but that the treatment was delayed to the extent that he is now recovering much more slowly than he otherwise would have been.
However, it is quite possible that the situation for Rezaian would be even worse than it is if not for the international pressure that is mounting with respect to the case. The Tower reports that an online petition for Rezaian’s release has acquired 100,000 signatures from 70 countries, with 90 percent of those signatures coming only in the past few weeks amidst a major media push to increase awareness of his case.