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Latifi’s Family Arrested

The Guardian reports:

Iran has arrested the family of a Kurdish student whose execution,scheduled to take place on Boxing Day, was delayed because of protests outside the prison in which he has been held for three years.

A source close to the family of Habibollah Latifi, a 29-year-old student activist, said his parents and his three brothers and three sisters were arrested last night.

Human rights activists fear Iran might carry out the death penalty in secret.

At least 10 other Kurdish activists who have been active in the campaign to prevent Latifi’s execution were also arrested. Among them was Simin Chaichi, a prominent Kurdish poet.

Latifi was scheduled to be executed yesterday , but the prison governor halted the execution when around 300 protesters gathered outside Sanandaj prison, where he has been since 23 October 2007.

His parents were then given permission to meet him after dawn.

PUK media, an official news website of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), reported that Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq and the founder of the PUK, had intervened to persuade the Iranian authorities to stop Latifi’s execution.

However, Iran’s ILNA state news agency quoted Latifi’s lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, as saying that “the claim that some officials in the countries of our neighbourhood have intervened to prevent the executions of some culprits including Latifi is not true”.

Shahab Sheikhi, a Kurdish journalist and human rights activist based in Germany, said: “I am absolutely sure that the reason Iran halted Latifi’s execution temporarily is because of the protest outside the prison and also the international attention to his case.

“However, we are very worried that these arrests might be the indication that Iran wants to execute him in secret.

Do not let this happen.

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