Mehdi Khazali, born in 1965, a blogger, an ophthalmologist, Director of Hayan publishing and founder of Abasaleh Cultural Institute and Publishing.
He is one of the harshest critics of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for which he has been imprisoned several times.
His criticizing of Ahmadinejad caused him to be disqualified to run for Parliamentary election.
Mehdi Khazali is the son of the hard-line cleric member of the Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Khazali. After the public criticism of Ahmadinejad by his son, Ayatollah Khazali publicly denounced and distanced himself from his son’s positions.
Mehdi Khazali was summoned by the Special Cleric Court and arrested the first time during the events of the post-2009 disputed presidential elections.
After his case was sent to the Revolutionary Court, he was then incarcerated in Evin prison. Twenty four days later, on July 22, 2009 he was released on 20 Million Toman bail.
On October 13, 2010, Mehdi Khazali was once again arrested by Intelligence Ministry’s agents after being summoned to the Branch 4 of the Public Prosecutor’s office at the Revolutionary Court. On that same day he had been threatened by the security police that he must present himself at Evin.
Khazali was once again incarcerated in Evin prison. His charges in this case were, “Insulting Ayatollah Janati, Insulting the president and propaganda against the regime”.
After nineteen days of incarceration, Khazali was allowed his first visit with his family on November 1, 2010.
At the time he had been on a hunger strike for one week protesting his arrest. Twelve days later, he was released on 200 Million Tomans bail.
After Mehdi Khazali continued with his critical writings on his blog, he was once again summoned and arrested on July 18, 2011. He launched a hunger strike from day one of this arrest. He was transferred to Ward 350 in Evin prison on August 8, 2011.
He remained on a hunger strike during his 27 days of incarceration before he was released on bail.
Mehdi Khazali was violently arrested for the fourth time on January 9, 2012 and was taken to Evin prison. During this very violent arrest he suffered broken teeth and a broken arm.
He once again launched a hunger strike from the start of his incarceration. On February 1, 2012, while his arm was broken and he had lost a lot of weight, Khazali was transferred to Ward 350 in Evin prison.
Dr. Khazali suffered various health problems and was taken to Evin clinic on the 35th day of his hunger strike due to deteriorating health condition.
While Khazali still in prison, his wife and daughter were arrested on February 14, 2012 but were released after several hours of detention on the same day.
In the afternoon of February 26, 2012, while Khazali was very weak from his prolonged hunger strike and using a cane to assist him in walking, several security agents took him from Ward 350 to Ward 209 in Evin prison.
On March 6, 2012, after 57 days on hunger strike, Khazali started a dry hunger strike (refusing both food & liquids), which lasted for three days before he went back on his food hunger strike.
lost about 66 lbs and become so weak that could barely walk without using a cane
Dr. Khazali was released from prison early morning hours of March 19, 2012 after 70 days of hunger strike and having lost about 66 lbs, frail and unable to walk without using a case.
Charges And Sentence:
On February 5, 2012, Khazali was sentenced by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary court to 14 years in prison, 10 years exile and 90 lashes. He was charged with “Propaganda against the regime, assembly and collusion with intent to act against the national security, and writing of critical letters to the Supreme Leader”. This sentence was issued for his previous cases.
Dr. Mehdi Khazali was among dozens of people arrested Tuesday night October 30, 2012 in a raid of the Writers Society meeting. Upon arrest he announced he will launch a dry hunger strike.
Dr. Khazali broke his hunger strike after 12 days with the interrogators promising to release the other people who were arrested with him at the Writers Society meeting.
After 40 days of no news and no contact with family, on December 8, 2012 Dr. Khazali was allowed to phone his family.
His son posted this entry on his Facebook page about the short conversation they had with his father, “In the short conversation we had, my father was more worried abut his family. He said he is in a cell that is 2 meters long by 1 meter wide, which he called a “Toilet”. There is a commode in the middle of the room and the floor is damp. He puts an extra blanket on the floor so the wet floor doesn’t bother him as much, the room is filled with sewage stench.”
“He told us he will start a hunger strike as of today (December 8) and will remain on it until he is released.”
Despite bail having been set for the release of Dr. Khazali on December 30, 2012, his family was not notified of the judge’s order until February 16, 2013.
Dr. Khazali’s family provided the court ordered bail, however, Intelligence Ministry prevented his release & pressed new charges.
Dr. Khazali is being kept in prison illegally. He has vowed to remain on hunger strike until he is released from his illegal imprisonment.