Two more journalists arrested, a managing editor banned from doing his job, and two newspapers suspended. Iranian courts persist in serious press freedom violations.
Managing editor Massiolah Soltani, of the weekly Sedai é Zanjan, was summonsed on 13 May 2004 by the third chamber of the Zanjan court in the north-west of the country and after questioning he was immediately remanded in custody. He is accused of "disseminating false news" and "disturbing public opinions and order". His colleague, Massud Almassi, was arrested for the same reasons on 15 May. The newspaper decided to suspend publication in protest against the arrests which it termed "illegaI and arbitrary". The arrests appeared to be linked to a story carried by the newspaper about the rape of a four-year-old girl.
Editor of the monthly Aftab (The Sun), Issa Saharkhiz, was given a six-month ban on all journalistic work and fined two million rials (about 2,000 euros). The Tehran court gave its verdict almost three months after the trial, that took place on 25 February. One year earlier, in its 28th edition, Aftab carried a translation of an article "The Lessons of Iran" written by Israeli Bary Robin on the 1979 Iranian revolution. The author considered that "the Ayatollah Khomeini's criticism of the Shah's relations with the West was unjust." Iranian courts ruled that the article was "an insult to the guide of the revolution"
Elsewhere, on 5 May, the Azeri-language daily Nedai Azarabadegan was suspended for two months by the Tabriz court and ordered to pay a three million-rials fine (about 3,000 euros). Its editor Abolfazle Vésali, said that several bodies had made complaints against the newspaper but that he believed "it had only done its job in providing news".
The following day, the weekly Gorgan é Emrouz was banned. Its editor Mostafa Sabti, has been imprisoned since 19 March on the orders of the first branch of Gorgan Court in northern Iran. Sentenced on 1 September 2003 to three months in prison and four months suspended, Sabti had been on temporary release since then. He had published an open letter from residents of a neighbourhood in Gorgan protesting at the taking over of a park by the local authorities. The courts, implicated in the case, laid a complaint for defamation.
With 14 currently behind bars, Iran is the Middle East's largest prison for journalists.
... Payvand News - 5/20/04 ... --