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Iranian journalist reimprisoned after a week of freedom, held with ordinary detainees

Reporters Without Borders today called for the immediate release of journalist Massoud Bastani, who was reimprisoned a week after his release on 6 August from Evin prison in Tehran and is being held in Arak prison, in the centre of the country, which is normally used for non-political prisoners.

Bastani had spent two weeks in Evin prison for covering a demonstration in support of imprisoned fellow journalist Akbar Ganji, who was on hunger strike at the time.

"It is shocking that a prisoner of conscience has been put with inmates held for ordinary crimes, as some of them could be dangerous or sick," the press freedom organisation said. "It is also unacceptable that a journalist is being punished just for supporting a colleague who was on hunger strike, and we call on the judicial authorities in Arak to stop harassing him."

The editor of Nedai Eslahat (a daily that was closed by the authorities in 2003) and a contributor to such pro-reform newspapers as Etemad, Toseeh and Joumhoryat, Bastani first run-in with the authorities was in 2003, when he was sentenced to six months in prison, 70 lashes and a five-year ban on practising journalism.

He wrote many reports about Ganji's hunger strike this summer. In a 27 June release, Reporters Without Borders had commented that : "The authorities are not only content to let Akbar Ganji die, they are also arresting and harassing those who have the courage to defend him."

Ganji's wife, Massoumeh Shaffii, meanwhile told Reporters Without Borders by phone that she has just sent a letter to UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to coincide with the Iranian president's visit to New York for the UN summit. Thanking Annan for requesting Ganji's release, the letter informs him that Ganji was returned to prison on 3 September and that he is still not being allowed to receive visits.

... Payvand News - 9/15/05 ... --

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