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Eleven jailed Iranian journalists start the New Year in harsh prison conditions

Reporters Without Borders has expressed its indignation at the prison conditions of 11 Iranian journalists, most of them ill and in a very physically and psychologically weakened state.The international press freedom organisation renews its objections to their often-arbitrary detention and calls for their release.

"It is completely unacceptable for journalists like Siamak Pourzand, who is sick and 74-years old, to still be held in solitary confinement," said Robert Ménard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders."The same goes for Ali-Reza Jabari, 60, who is suffering from heart problems and has even received 253 lashes. The journalists' families are not even allowed to bring warm clothing to the sick prisoners.". Ménard added that Reporters Without Borders remained very concerned by the cases of Taghi Rahmani, Reza Alijani and Hoda Saber, whose legal position was unclear at the least and for whom the legal period of being held in custody had long ago passed.

Information about the 11 jailed journalists :

  • Siamak Pourzand, freelance journalist for several independent newspapers, sentenced to eight years in prison, has been jailed since November 2000. This 74-year-old has been put under heavy psychological pressure and has been tortured during interrogation. In an open letter his wife said, "He is held in solitary confinement in the basement of Evin Jail. According to a diagnosis given on 30 July 2003 at the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Teheran he is suffering from an arthritic neck and worrying disc problems that will require an operation. He is unable to walk and to attend to his daily needs".
  • Ali-Reza Jabari, journalist with the monthly Adineh, jailed since 17 March 2003, was sentenced to three years in prison and 253 lashes. At over 60 years old, Ali-Reza Jabari has heart problems. Held in a cell with common-law prisoners, he has been treated even worse since a letter detailing his prison conditions was published on an Internet site. The prison authorities refuse to allow his wife to bring him warm clothing.
  • Hassan Youssefi Eshkevari, journalist for Iran-e-Farda, sentenced to seven years in prison, has been jailed since 5 August 2000. Diabetic and insulin-dependent and suffering from bleeding from his eyes, he was given a temporary release to seek medical treatment but his doctors say he urgently needs intensive care outside of prison.
  • Akbar Ganji, journalist with the daily Sobh-e-Emouz, sentenced to six years in prison, has been jailed since 2 April 2000. Suffering from an acute throat disorder, he was allowed a 10-day pass for treatment but doctors believe he needs an urgent operation.
  • Iraj Jamshidi, editor in chief of the financial daily Asia, held in detention since 6 July 2003, has still not been tried. On the eve of a visit from the UN special rapporteur, Ambeyi Ligabo, he was transferred from his isolation cell to a dormitory. Since then he has been returned to the basement of Evin Jail. He has been allowed only one visit, coinciding with Ligabo's trip.
  • Ali-Reza Ahmadi, also of Asia, jailed since 29 July 2003, and still remanded in custody.
  • Hossein Ghazian, journalist with the daily Norouz, sentenced to four and a half years in prison and jailed since 31 October 2002.
  • Abbas Abdi, of the daily Salam, sentenced to four and a half years in prison and held since 4 November 2002.
  • Taghi Rahmani, of Omid-e-Zangan, imprisoned since 14 June 2003, for no official reason, has been held in solitary confinement for nearly two months and has not been allowed to receive any visitors since 6 December. He was reportedly sentenced on appeal, in another case, to 13 years in jail.
  • Reza Alijani, editor in chief of Iran-e-Farda and laureate of the Reporters Without Borders-Fondation de France press freedom prize, imprisoned since 14 June 2003, for no official reason, held in solitary confinement for nearly two months and not allowed any visitors since 6 December. He was reportedly sentenced on appeal in another case to six years in prison.
  • Hoda Saber, managing editor of Iran-e-Farda, also held since 14 June 2003. He was reportedly sentence on appeal in another case to ten years in prison.

The Association for the Defence of Prisoners' Rights, set up at the end of December by the journalist Emadoldin Baghi (given a one-year suspended jail sentence on 4 December) and human rights activist, on 6 December 2003 released a statement in Teheran condemning the situation of Iran's jailed journalists.

A petition signed by more than 1,000 university students and professors was published and addressed to the 'Iranian people' on 5 January 2004, calling for the release of Taghi Rahmani, Reza Alijani and Hoda Saber whom it said had been "illegally and unfairly arrested".

Releated Report: Iran - 2003 Annual report

... Payvand News - 1/10/04 ... --

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