UN flags risks faced by prisoners on hunger strikes in Iran

A U.N. expert focusing on human rights in Iran is warning about the health risk of prisoners who have been conducting prolonged hunger strikes to protest against their detention.

Special rapporteur Asma Jahangir says at least eight prisoners of conscience have been on life-threatening hunger strikes in recent weeks, and called on Iranian leaders to release all people "arbitrarily detained" for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.

Jahangir said in a statement Monday that the eight "are left with no other option but to put their life at risk to contest the legality of their detention."

Iranian authorities have arrested dual nationals, artists, poets, journalists and other in a recent crackdown on expression led by hard-liners who oppose President Hassan Rouhani's more moderate policies.