Iranian prosecutors today said the death of opposition blogger Sattar Beheshti while in jail earlier this month was probably due to "excessive psychological stress," according to official statements cited by BBC News.
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The 35-year-old dissident blogger was reported dead just days after being taken into custody on October 30 charges of working "against national security on social networks and Facebook." Online activists are often arrested on similar charges in Iran, where protest against the government is not tolerated.
The reason for his death was not clear, but rumors circulated that he had been tortured to death, sparking outcry from international leaders and leading to a rare probe from parliament.
Iran's prosecutor's office today said it is "not possible to determine the exact cause of [Beheshti's] death" but said "the most likely cause leading to death may be shock," according to statement quoted by BBC as published by Iran's official IRNA news agency.
Azerbaijan's Trend News cited the same report as saying "the most likely cause of death would be the shock of blows to sensitive body parts or psychological pressure."
Trend also said several people had been detained as part of lawmakers' probe into the incident.
Beheshti's mother has reportedly been banned from speaking about her son's death publicly, but BBC cited her as telling the opposition Kalameh website that officials tried to give her "blood money."
"I said I didn't want any," she reportedly said. "What I want is for the world to know that they killed my son. They killed Sattar."
Beheshti indicated he had been harassed in the days leading up to his death, writing shortly before he died: "They threatened me yesterday that my mother would wear black because I don't shut my mouth," The Guardian said, citing his blog.
"I told them [the officials] that I only write what I see and what I hear, but they responded that they would do everything they can to shut me up, to stop me from spreading news," Beheshti said, according to The Guardian.
"They said they will shut me up in a way that no name or sign would remain of me."