An Iranian social media star has contracted the coronavirus disease in prison, her lawyer said.
Fatemeh Khishvand, better known as Sahar Tabar, became famous after posting her heavily altered face through numerous plastic surgeries on her Instagram page, in the likeness of Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie.
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Tabar, who has also edited her photos to resemble a zombie, was arrested by Iranian authorities last October, on the orders of Tehran’s guidance court, which deals with “cultural crimes and social and moral corruption”.
Among the charges she faced were blasphemy, inciting violence, gaining income through inappropriate means, and encouraging the youth to corruption.
The 18-year-old’s lawyer, Payam Derafshan, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) last week that Tabar is currently on a ventilator at Sina Hospital in Tehran after getting infected with coronavirus at the Shahr-e Rey prison.
She is now held in a quarantine section of the prison, Derafshan said, according to Tabar’s mother.
“We find it unacceptable that this young woman has now caught the coronavirus in these circumstances while her detention order has been extended during all this time in jail,” Derafshan said.
The director of the prison, Mehdi Mohammadi, denied Tabar had been diagnosed with COVID-19, but Derafshan said it is a “habit for authorities to deny everything”.
“It makes no sense to deny this,” he said. “The prison director should acknowledge the infection and admit she has been hospitalised.”
The lawyer went on to say although he appealed for the judge in Tabar’s case, Mohammed Moghiseh, to release her from prison, he is “unreachable” and could not be found at the court.
Last month, Iran temporarily released some 85,000 inmates, including political prisoners, in an attempt to reduce pressure on its prisons system as the country struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The death toll from Iran’s coronavirus outbreak has surpassed 5,000, and there are more than 82,000 cases of infection in the Middle East’s worst-affected country.