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Iranian journalist Mostafa Sabti released at the end of his prison sentence

Mostafa Sabti, editor of the Iranian weekly Gorgan-e emrouz, arrested on 19 March 2004 and sentenced to three months in prison for defamation, as well as four months suspended, was released on 14 June after serving his sentence.

April 7, 2004

Reporters Without Borders warns of unfair trial for Ensafali Hedayat and urges release of Mostafa Sabti

Reporters Without Borders has expressed fears about the fairness of the forthcoming trial of freelance journalist Ensafali Hedayat, postponed to 14 April, and condemned coercion used against him since he was detained on 16 January 2004.

The international press freedom organisation also protested against a three-month prison sentence for defamation handed down to Mostafa Sabti, publisher of the weekly Gorgan-e emrouz.

"Iranian justice that jailed a journalist without reason, is now trying to fabricate evidence for a trial that is shaping up as a farce, for which lawyers have not even been able to see their client's file", it said.

"The Ensafali Hedayat case, which is not the only one of its type, is revealing of the activities of the intelligence services which is trying to use every possible means to get confessions. The new year now beginning, under the Iranian calendar, gave no hope of a better future for press freedom in Iran, where 12 journalists were now in jail," the organisation said.

The trial of Ensafali Hedayat was postponed to 14 April at the request of his lawyers who had not been able to see the file. One of them said Hedayat was apparently charged with "propaganda against the regime and insulting the Guide", "incitement to rebellion" and "attending counter-revolutionary meetings abroad".

Hedayat spoke out about the pressure brought to bear on him, in an open letter to President Khatami and published in Persian on various news sites. "I was accused of espionage and imprisoned. Since then intelligence agents have been trying to obtain confessions and information about all those who sent me messages online, my family and my professional contacts," he said.

Hedayat was arrested when he returned from Germany on 16 January 2004 on the orders of the revolutionary court of Tabriz in the north-west. He was earlier arrested on 16 June 2003, at Tabriz University, while covering student demonstrations. Accused of "inciting students to rebellion", he was held for more than 20 days in solitary confinement. After his release on 14 July, he wrote to President Khatami condemning his prison conditions and torture inflicted by the security forces.

Mostafa Sabti, publisher of the weekly Gorgan-e emrouz, was arrested on 19 March on the orders of the first section of the Gorgan court in the north of Iran. He was sentenced to three months in prison and four months suspended for publishing an open letter from residents of a district of Gorgan protesting against the taking over of a park. The legal authorities, who were implicated in the case, made a complaint against him for defamation.

With 12 prisoners, Iran is the Middle East's biggest prison for journalists

... Payvand News - 6/16/04 ... --

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