Saturday, December 22, 2007

Journalist freed on bail, but 11 others still held

Yaghoub Salaki Nia, a journalist who had spent 50 days in Tehran’s Evin prison without being charged, was freed on 19 December after payment of 80 million toumen (80,000 euros) in bail. Eleven other journalists are still detained in Iran, the Middle East’s biggest prison for the press.
“We cannot welcome Nia’s release without at the same time thinking of the other journalists still held in appalling conditions, often in solitary confinement,” Reporters Without Borders said. “They include Adnan Hassanpour, who has been awaiting execution for the past several months. There has never been any letup in the Islamic Republic’s repression of journalists in these past few years. An international campaign is more necessary than ever.”
A contributor to several publications including Shamesse Tabriz, Ahrar and Omid Zanjan, Nia had been arrested on 30 October.
Adl Mazri, the editor of the newspaper Sobh e Zahedan, was released on 12 December, four days after being summoned by a revolutionary tribunal in the southeastern city of Zahedan and arrested on charges of publishing false information and “disturbing public opinion” as a result of a complaint by the prefect of Sistan and Baluchestan province. He is now awaiting trial.
Ashtai, a weekly published in Kurdish and Farsi that was suspended on 5 August, was closed for good on 3 December by a court in the city of Sanandaj, the capital of the northwestern province of Kurdistan. Arzesh, a conservative quarterly, was at the same time closed by a court in Tehran and its editor, Ali Nazari was fined 1,200 euros.
A European parliamentary delegation called for Hassanpour’s release during a visit to Tehran from 9 to 11 December. Hassanpour’s death sentence was upheld by the Tehran supreme court on 22 October.
Plight of imprisoned journalists
The authorities have still not revealed where they are holding Omid Ahamadzadeh, a contributor to Aso and Didgah, two newspapers that have been suspended since 2005. The reasons for his arrest by intelligence officers in Sanandaj on 28 November are also still unknown. The official news agency ILNA did however report that Abolfazl Abedini Nasr of the daily Bahar Khozestan has been charged with “complicity with a terrorist entity.” Arrested on 13 November in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, he is reportedly suspected of links with someone responsible for a bombing.
A hearing in the appeal of journalist and human rights activist Emadoldin Baghi was held on 15 November in his absence. The former editor of Jomhouriat (a daily suspended in 2004), Baghi is appealing against the three-year sentence he got from a Tehran revolutionary court for “activity against national security” and “publicity in favour of government opponents.” He has been in solitary confinement in Evin prison since his arrest on 14 October.
The many requests for the release of reporter Ejlal Ghavami of the weekly Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan on health grounds have been ignored. Ghavami, who needs an operation for an acute eye infection that is discharging pus, is serving a three-year sentence in Evin prison for “inciting people to revolt” and “activity against national security.” The editor of Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan, Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, has not been able to take advantage of a conditional release order because his family cannot raise the amount of bail demanded, which is 150 million toumen (145,000 euros).
Said Matinpour of the weekly Yarpagh has meanwhile been allowed to receive a visit from his family for the first time since his arrest on 28 May.
Sign the petition for Adnan Hassanpour’s release

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