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Call for release of four Iranian journalists held in Kurdish northwest

Reporters Without Borders today called for the release of a total of four journalists held in Iran's Kurdish northwest after the arrests of Kia Jahani on 24 February in Marivan and Aso Salah on 8 March in Sanandaj. Two others arrested earlier, Adnan Hassanpour and Kaveh Javanmard, are still being held without being allowed visits.

"The situation of journalists in the Kurdish part of Iran has become even worse," the press freedom organisation said. "With increasing frequency, they are being arrested arbitrarily and held incommunicado without the authorities feeling it necessary to inform their families or provide them with a lawyer. We call for their immediate release as no evidence of any guilt has been produced."

Jahani, who was arrested without any reason being given on 24 February in Marivan (near the western border with Iraq), has for many years been a contributor to the Kurdish-language television station Kurdistan TV.

Salah, who works for the weekly Didgagh, was arrested 12 days later by intelligence officials in Sanandaj, the capital of Kordestan province, while covering an authorised demonstration marking International Women's Day. As he suffers from asthma, his family took his asthma medicine to the prison at the request of the prison authorities.

Hassanpour, a journalist with the weekly Asou who was arrested outside his home on 25 January, is still being held in Mahabad prison without being able to receive visits from his family or lawyer. There is also no word of Javanmard of the weekly Karfto, who has been held in the main Sanandaj prison since his arrest on 18 December. It is not known what charges may have been brought against either of these two journalists.

The Press Authorisation and Surveillance Commission, an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Orientation, meanwhile suspended the Kurdish-language weekly Payam Kurdistan on 11 March for "spreading separatist ideas" after its latest issue included a map of "Greater Kurdistan."

The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to be the Middle East's biggest prison for journalists, with a total of seven detained.

... Payvand News - 3/15/07 ... --

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