Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the early release of blogger Mojtaba Saminejad, who was serving a combined sentence of two years and 10 months in prison. He was formally freed on 12 September but had in fact been on home leave since June. Arrested in February 2005, he spent nearly 18 months in prison for a few messages posted on his blog.
“The Iranian judicial system finally seems to have recognised that Saminejad did not deserve to be in prison, and we should welcome that,” the press freedom organisation said. “But Iran continues to be one of the few countries in the world that systematically jails Internet users who are overly critical of the political or religious authorities. We must not forget that Arash Sigarchi, another blogger who was imprisoned for ‘insulting the Supreme Guide,’ is still in jail.”
Saminejad was first arrested on 1 November 2004 for criticising the arrest of three fellow bloggers online. While held, his blog’s address was diverted to the website of a group of hackers linked to the Iranian radical Islamist movement Hezbollah. On leaving prison on 27 January 2005, he resumed his blog using a new address (http://8mdr8.blogspot.com), which led to his re-arrest a few days later.
He was initially sentenced on 23 March 2005 to two years in prison for “insulting the Supreme Guide.” At a second trial, he was given an additional 10-month sentence “publishing false information with the aim of unsettling public opinion” and “immoral” behaviour. He was held in Gohar Dashat prison, in a suburb of Tehran, which is notorious for mistreating its inmates. He shared a cell with non-political detainees. He was allowed to sit mid-course exams at Tehran’s Azad university at the end of January, although he was led in handcuffs into the examination room.
Sigarchi was first held for two months at the start of 2005. He was sent back to prison on 26 January 2006, four days after being given a three-year sentence for “insulting the Supreme Guide” and “propaganda against the regime.” (For more information: ). He says he has not been mistreated in prison.
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