TEHRAN: The Iranian dissident Mehdi Khazali, who was serving a six-year prison sentence for acts against national security and spreading propaganda against the regime, has been freed on health grounds. The official IRNA news agency quoted Khazali’s lawyer as saying that the 48-year-old inmate was hospitalised after going on hunger strike, and that the authorities had decided he was too ill to return to jail. “A representative of the prosecutor and a doctor went to my client’s bedside and have judged that the continuation of imprisonment would be dangerous for his health,” said lawyer Mostafa Tork-Hamedani. “He is free,” he added.

Khazali was arrested on January 9, 2013 for the third time in two years and released on bail in June the same year. But he was arrested again last month and sent to jail to serve his sentence.

A doctor by profession and a veteran of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Khazali is the son of Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali, an important religious figure known for taking ultra-conservative positions.