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Three Iranian journalists arrested in continued crackdown against Internet


Reporters Without Borders said it was outraged at the latest escalation in a crackdown against news on the Internet as three journalists contributing or having contributed to a reformist site were arrested on 7-8 August.

They were Babak Ghafori Azar, Shahram Rafihzadeh and Hanif Mazroi - the latest victims of a wave of arrests and closures launched by Iranian judicial authorities against news sites with reformist leanings.

"Reporters Without Borders is outraged at this latest escalation against the right to inform the public via the Internet in Iran.

"After closing or blocking several sites and arresting several of their staff, the Tehran authorities are summoning, arresting and threatening journalists suspected of having links to these sites, said the international press freedom organisation.

"We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately release the three journalists arrested this week and end its crackdown against Internet news sites."

Security forces arrested Babak Ghafori Azar, of the financial daily Hayat-e now at his home on 7 August after searching the premises.

Shahram Rafihzadeh, head of the cultural section of the newspaper Etemad, was summoned by the Tehran prosecutor's office last week but did not answer his summons. He was arrested on 7 August at the newspaper, apparently by the morals police, a department of the Tehran police forces seen as close to the intelligence services.

Hanif Mazroi, former journalist on several reformist press titles, was arrested after answering a summons from the 9th chamber of the Tehran prosecutor's office on 8 August.

The three journalists appeared to have detained in connection with the blocking on 21 August of the Internet news site Rouydad, on the order of the Tehran prosecutor's office.

Some six to eight people working for Internet service providers, who were summoned then arrested by the Tehran prosecutor's office about two weeks ago, have been released.

All of them spoke of harassment and threats and said they had been warned not to communicate with anyone about their arrests if they wanted to be released.

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