Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrests of six journalists in the past week and called for the release of all journalists detained in Iran.
"Any excuse will do in Iran to prevent journalists from expressing themselves," the press freedom organisation said. "Closely monitored by both the state security services and the clergy, news media that do not defend the government's vision of the Islamic revolution are shut down and their journalists are arrested without warrants and without reason."
Reporters Without Borders added: "They may be released after paying exorbitant fines but they can be sent back to prison at any time and are not able to work in any acceptable fashion."
The pro-reform, Farsi-language weekly Safir Dashtestan (Dashtestan Ambassador) was closed on 16 October and its publisher, M. Boumand, and its editor, Hossin Rouin, were arrested along with an editorial assistant for publishing a satirical article about the Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in their most recent issue (see photo). All three were later freed on bail.
Protests were previously organised by mullahs outside the newspaper's headquarters (see photo) in the southern city of Bushehr. The newspaper is known for criticising the Iranian clergy, especially Ayatollah Mesbah, a candidate for election to the Assembly of Experts (whose prerogatives include choosing the Islamic Revolution's Supreme Guide).
Three journalists with the Kurdish-language weekly Rouji Ha Lat (The Dawn) - Farhad Aminpour, Reza Alipour and Saman Solimani - were arrested at the newspaper's office in Sanandaj, in the Kurdish part of Iran, on 12 October for no apparent reason. It is not known where they are being held and their families have received no word of them since their arrest.
Hossin Shakery, a journalist with the weekly Payam-e-Jonob (Message of the South, in Farsi) was meanwhile summoned on 14 October by a court in Bushehr and charged with "disturbing the peace." As he was not immediately able to pay the bail of 100 million rials (9,000 euros) set by the judge, he had to spend 48 hours in detention. The newspaper's publisher has also received a summons from the court.
... Payvand News - 10/19/06 ... --