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Iranian Cyber-journalists forced to give false evidence at colleague's trial

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the pressure being put on three newly released cyber-journalists and a fourth still in prison to give false evidence at the trial of the president of the Association of Iranian Journalists, Ali Mazroi. All four said they were treated well in prison at a press conference held yesterday when charges were brought against Mazroi in a Tehran court.

"The Iranian authorities hope to be able to dispel the criticism abroad by staging pathetic and grotesque performances," the organisation said. "But these testimonies are utterly pointless as there is abundant evidence of the mental and physical harassment of journalists."

The four journalists brought to court yesterday as prosecution witnesses in the case against Mazroi were Omid Memarian, Shahram Rafihzadeh, Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi and Javad Gholam Tamayomi (who is still in prison). Mazroi is being prosecuted for writing to President Mohammad Khatami about the mistreatment of his son, Hanif Mazroi, another cyber-journalist who was recently released from prison.

At yesterday's press conference, all five said they had not been mistreated while in detention. Tamayomi even said he was currently being held in a cell that was "30 square metres in area, with a colour television."

In reality, the seven recently detained cyber-journalists were regularly beaten in prison. Rafihzadeh was beaten on the soles of his feet with electric wire, a common form of torture in Iranian jails.

Although six of the seven have been freed on bail, they continue to be harassed by the authorities. Memarian, Rafihzadeh and Ebrahim spent eight hours in the offices of Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi the day before yesterday. They have been summoned for questioning and have received phone calls from the security services several times since their release. They have also been told not to accept the services of a lawyer.

Letters of "repentance" by these journalists that were dictated by the authorities were published in the Iranian press on 4 December. Memarian said in his letter : "I was brain-washed by radical elements" and by "my relations with counter-revolutionaries."

... Payvand News - 12/16/04 ... --

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