Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release of online journalist Mojtaba Lotfi, freed on 28 August 2005 after more than six months in prison and of a weblogger arrested in February, Mohamad Reza Nasab Abdolahi, set free the previous day after completing his sentence. It however voiced concern that both still have prison sentences hanging over their heads.
"We are naturally delighted at the release of Mojtaba Lotfi, particularly since there was growing concern about his state of health," said the international press freedom organisation. "With the regime's hardliners controlling the government, we were very pessimistic about the plight of jailed journalists and webloggers", it said. "Against this background, his release provides a glimmer of hope, particularly for Mojtaba Saminejad, the last remaining blogger still in prison.
"But we have to temper our enthusiasm since the release of Mojtaba Lotfi has not been formally confirmed by the courts and Mohamed Reza Nasab Abdolahi still faces charges in another case that has not yet reached court. They could both be sent back to prison at any time."
Lotfi, a theology student in the city of Qom, was was freed at the end of a three-day pass to celebrate a religious festival with his family. The authorities phoned him on the last day of his temporary freedom to tell him that he need not return to prison. But he received no written confirmation of his release order. He was seriously ill as a result of being gassed during the Iran-Iraq war and his health had rapidly deteriorated in prison. More information
Abdolahi, who was arrested on 23 February 2005 and sentenced to six months in prison and fined a million rials (about 85 euros), was released on 27 August. His arrest was reportedly linked to his occasional contributions to foreign radio stations. He was also apparently facing charges in a separate case involving morals ˆ a charge frequently levelled against political dissidents in Iran. More information
Blogger Mojtaba Saminejad however remains in jail. He is serving two years following his arrest on February 2005.
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