Jailed Iranian poet and filmmaker Baktash Abtin died in a hospital in Tehran on January 8 after contracting COVID-19 in Evin Prison.
He was denied timely medical treatment with prison officials delaying his transfer to a hospital despite his critical condition.
The 48-year-old activist was officially charged with “propaganda against the state” and “acting against national security.”
A prominent writer and free-speech advocate, Baktash Abtin was serving a six-year prison sentence because of his membership in the persecuted Iranian Writers Association and because he visited the graves of victims of the regime’s political assassinations.
The open expression advocacy group PEN America in October jointly awarded Baktash Abtin and two other writers the 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.
Following his death, Pen America said Abtin’s death was “aided and abetted by the Iranian government every step of the way.”
Reporters Without Borders in a January 8 tweet said Baktash Abtin had been denied proper medical care and said it “blames the high regime’s authorities for his death.”
The Iranian Writers Association said Baktash Abtin’s “suffering during the past month has been the direct result of actions by the state and prison authorities.”