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Neighboring countries offer different perils for journalists

Iraq and Iran, next-door neighbors, are very different countries with very different problems. But they do have this in common: They are two of the world’s most perilous places for independent journalists.

Media watchdogs such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have named Iraq as the world’s deadliest place for journalists. That has especially been the case for Iraqi journalists, whether working for international media or local newspapers.

Since March 2003, 90 Iraqi journalists have been killed by hostile actions, according to CPJ’s count. Compare that to 22 journalists of other nationalities. Of those 112 deaths, 84 have been the result of “insurgent action,” including assassinations, suicide bombings and crossfire.

In neighboring Iran, journalists face a different kind of persecution. In recent months, numerous journalists have faced arrest, jail, court harassment or even the death sentence—as in the case of two Kurdish men condemned by the judiciary for “engaging against National Security.” Watchdogs such as CPJ, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Amnesty International announced their alarm over the death sentences of journalist Adnan Hassanpour and environmentalist Abdulvahed Butimar, handed down in a closed trial.

Rooz Online, a pro-reform news site based in Paris, said that security officers detained three other Tehran-based journalists in recent days. One of them was Soheil Assefi, whose personal documents and computers hard disk were confiscated, RSF reported. One of the three journalists, Masoud Bastani, was released, but it the charges against the other two were not clear. Authorities also shut down the reformist newspaper Shargh after it published an interview with a Canadian-Iranian gay activist.

According to RSF, the Iranian government is currently holding 11 journalists and “cyber dissidents” without any specific charges.

On August 8, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke about censorship during a visit to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). According to that agency, the president said that he was not “pro-censorship,” and that it was important to broadcast “useful news.”  

"There might be lots of news that are authentic, but they should not be broadcasted, because they would disturb the peace of mind of the society," he said, according to IRNA. "Censorship was invented by those who also devise standards for news dissemination, defining the news and the reporters in a way to match their standards and propagate their policies in the world."


Rooz Online:




... Payvand News - 8/27/07 ... --

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