Photos of Hamid Baghaei, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s former deputy president, circulating on social media show him skinny and unhealthy looking after a long hunger strike in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison.
Baghaei has been in prison since March following his conviction on corruption charges, and has reportedly been on hunger strike for more than 80 days. The images of Baghaei were first published on websites linked to Ahmadinejad.
Based on sources close to Baghaie, his weight has dropped from 57 to 43 kilograms while he has been incarcerated.
Baghaei was sentenced in December last year to 15 years in prison, a cash fine, and lashes for embezzlement and illegal business transactions.
Among other things, he has been accused of pocketing millions of dollars that he had received from the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force to distribute among African leaders.
Baghaei and his allies have rejected all the charges and claim that his conviction is politically motivated. Ahmadinejad and his former deputy have been very vocal in criticizing the judiciary and its powerful head, Sadegh Larijani.
“Hamiad Baghaei’s photos are shocking! They are similar to those of the Holocaust victims that his government insisted on denying,” Sadegh Zibakalam, a renowned political science professor, wrote on his Instagram account in reference to Ahmadinejad’s repeated denials of the massacre on jews during WWII.
The photos of Baghaei have shocked many other Iranians too. “Whether we like him or not, Hamid Baghaei has been treated unfairly by the ruling establishment. Many political and civil activists demand an open trial for him,” an Iranian journalist tweeted.
“My last interview with Baghaei was torture. He was condescending and threatening the whole time,” female Iranian journalist Fatemeh Aliasgha tweeted, adding, “he sent many journalists to jail. Nevertheless, I would like to see a fair and open trial for him.”
Due to his health condition, Baghaei was granted temporary leave from prison June 3, but had to return six days later.
Sources close to Ahmadinejad’s former deputy said that he reinstated his hunger strike after returning to prison, and described his condition as critical.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the judiciary of plotting against him and his colleagues. In a recent open letter to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he demanded the dismissal of the head of the judiciary, Sadegh Larijani.