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Prisoner dies in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, US denies he was American

PARIS, France — A rights group accused Tehran of negligence Tuesday after a man in his sixties held on fraud charges died in prison, while Washington denied reports he was a US citizen.

Faramarz Javidzad had been charged with illegal property deals and had been held in Tehran’s Evin prison for two months. He died over the weekend, Iran’s official IRNA news agency said, citing the prison authorities.

The US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) said Javidzad suffered from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and stomach bleeding, and alleged that “insufficient medical attention and a delay in his transfer to a hospital” had caused his death.

Despite a judge’s approval for Javidzad’s transfer to a hospital outside Evin, prison officials obstructed his medical care and delayed his transfer, it said.

A number of human rights organization including the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, a Norway-based Kurdish human rights NGO, the Iran Human Rights Monitor, and the Iran Human Rights Society said Javidzad was Jewish. The latter two NGOs noted that he was a Jewish Iranian-American resident of Los Angeles.

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The statement quoted by IRNA confirmed he had a “history of gastrointestinal diseases” but said he had already been sent to medical centers outside prison five times.

On Sunday, after his condition worsened, “he was immediately transferred to the prison hospital and CPR was performed with a doctor, a nurse and emergency personnel attending. Despite all their efforts, this prisoner died.”

IRNA said he was aged 60 and HRANA 63.

Initial reports published by HRANA and Persian-language TV channel Iran International described Javidzad as an Iranian-US dual national.

Five Americans freed by Iran in a high-stakes prisoner swap had landed back in the United States only last week, with the administration of President Joe Biden insisting there were no more American citizens detained in Iran.

Family members embrace freed Americans Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi, as well as two returnees whose names have not yet been released by the US government, who were released in a prisoner swap deal between US and Iran, as they arrive at Davison Army Airfield, Virginia, September 19, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

Western governments accuse Tehran of systematically arresting foreign nationals on false charges in a deliberate strategy aimed at extracting concessions.

But in Washington, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that while he was aware of the reports to contrary, Javidzad is “not a US citizen, to our knowledge”.

“We have no records to indicate that he was a lawful permanent resident,” Miller added. “We are not tracking every individual who might have lived in the United States at some point who’s been detained in (an) Iranian prison.”

Miller said: “I will say, however, we are still alarmed by the reports that he was denied medical care by Iranian authorities while he was in their custody.”

In March 2022, Australian-Iranian national Shokrollah Jebeli, 82, died after being incarcerated in Evin since January 2020 following a conviction related to a financial dispute.

Amnesty International said at the time that Jebeli’s death represented an “arbitrary deprivation of life” owing to a “deliberate” denial of healthcare.

In an April 2022 report, the rights watchdog accused Iran of deliberately denying life-saving medical care to prisoners, saying it had confirmed 96 cases since 2010 of detainees dying after a lack of treatment.