Prisoners

Jailed Ex-Presenter Feared Victim of Poisoning Plot

August 11, 2022
Roghayeh Rezaei
5 min read
Aziz Jabbari was arrested in Ardebil in spring 2018 over the content of his personal Instagram page
Aziz Jabbari was arrested in Ardebil in spring 2018 over the content of his personal Instagram page
The ex-presenter, who is in his 60s, has been denied medication in prison, received veiled death threats from interrogators, and survived an apparent poisoning attempt while out on furlough
The ex-presenter, who is in his 60s, has been denied medication in prison, received veiled death threats from interrogators, and survived an apparent poisoning attempt while out on furlough

Aziz Jabbari, a former presenter with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) in Ardebil, has been sentenced to an additional three years in prison over posts on Instagram despite his extremely poor health, IranWire understands.

Jabbari was first arrested in the late spring 2018 by Ardebil’s Intelligence Bureau. He was later convicted of “insulting the sanctities” and “insulting the Supreme Leader” and sentenced to five years in prison. He was summoned to prison in mid-2019 and on July 16, was placed on a leave of absence to care for his disabled elderly mother.

A source close to the family told IranWire that Intelligence Ministry agents have threatened to kill Jabbari. Earlier, on a five-day furlough, he became very sick and fell into a coma for almost 28 days died due to a poisoning, the source of which was never established.

The Formless Case Against Aziz Jabbari

Now in his 60s, Aziz Jabbari Kord Gheshlaghi was formerly an announcer for Ardebil Radio and Television and IRIB’s Sahar TV. He lost his father and both brothers in the Iran-Iraq war and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of fighting on the frontlines himself.  

Jabbari kept a personal Instagram page under the pseudonym Sadli Saz, which had barely more than 1,500 followers, on which he posted his reflections on the socio-political situation in Iran and the current leadership, including President Ebrahim Raisi.  

After four long years of captivity, the source told IranWire, Jabbari had signed a pledge to stay in a specific part of Ardebil and not commit a “new offence” in order to be let out to care for his mother. But Branch 1 of Adebil Revolutionary Court stipulated he has to stay in the city’s District 2, making it impossible for either one of them to access the necessary medical services.

While on furlough, they added, Jabbari was sentenced to three more years on top of the already-set five for “propaganda against the regime”. The new case against him was opened after he used Instagram Live on three occasions outside jail.

The only “evidence” in the case against Jabbari, the source said, was the existence of his legitimate audio and video commentaries on social media. They also said the charges were generalized and did not hone in on any particular comment: “To insult is not in his character. Aziz is a very cultured and courteous person. What was stated in those videos were his opinions, and, as a citizen, he has the right to express them. But the Intelligence Ministry says that he had posted them to change other people’s opinions, so he has to be jailed.”

Extreme Cruelty, Medical Negligence – Then, a Poisoning

Like other Iranian political prisoners before im, Jabbari has been denied his regular medication in prison. He suffers from anxiety and depression, and has been taking Xanax for years. “Aziz is supposed to take one Alprazolam [Xanax] tablet a day,” the source said, “but in prison they were giving him half a tablet every 15.

“This drove him to the brink of insanity. To degrade him further, prison officials sometimes sent him off to other wards. He was on the murderers’ ward for two months, on the drug traffickers’ ward for two months, and on Ardebil Central Prison’s larceny ward for another two months.”

Many prisoners of conscience have died behind bars after being denied medical care. Behnam Mahjoubi, a Gonabadi dervish who suffered from panic disorder and a neurological condition, was denied medical care when he became gravely ill. In an audio recording send from prison in late 2020, months before he died in Loghman Hospital after slipping into a coma, he told those outside: “I’m convinced that they [the security agents] want to murder me.”

Jabbari was reportedly threatened with death several times during interrogations. “Be careful!” he was told by one agents from Ardebil’s Intelligence Bureau. “You might suddenly be hit by a car that’ll throw you up in the air like a chicken and splat you on the ground. So stop pestering  Agha [“Sir”, an honorific used by regime adherents for the Supreme Leader].” Separately, he was also told: “Don’t imagine you’re safe because you’re the brother and son of [war] martyrs. Be careful what you say and how you behave.”

Then, the source said, “In March 2021, while he was out of prison on a leave of absence, he was poisoned. He was in a coma for 28 days.”

At about 3pm on the day he fell ill, the source said, Jabbari entered a diner near Ardebil’s Meshkin Gate vegetable market. While he was having breakfast a “respectable-looking” young man approached him and started a conversation about Iranian history and literature, a topic Jabbari known to be was interested in.

The young man then offered Jabbari a drink, which he accepted. Minutes after drinking it he lost consciousness and remained in the ICU for almost a month. While in the coma, he developed severe bedsores his upper and lower back: “Nevertheless, after he came out of the coma and before his treatment was complete, he was sent back to prison.

“The bedsores were so severe, and they smelled so bad, none of his cellmates could tolerate it. Finally, a full week later and after the infection got worse, he was granted another furlough and sent to Fatemi Hospital in Ardebil.”

The source told IranWire that in their view and in the family’s view, the additional sentence confirmed the judiciary intends to kill Aziz Jabbari. “He said people should unite, and leave this government behind them. Now he has to serve another three years.”

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