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Iran: One journalist imprisoned, two publications suspended

The EU urges the Islamic Republic to keep its promises on human rights

Reporters Without Borders today regretted that Iran continues to snub appeals from the international community on human rights, as one journalist was imprisoned and two publications suspended.

"Less than a week after the European Parliament passed a resolution urging Iran to respect its "obligations in line with international norms and instruments on human rights", Yaghoub Salaki Nia was imprisoned at Evin jail in Tehran. His arrest on 31 October brought to ten the number of journalists imprisoned in the country," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"Iran remains deaf to appeals from the international community aimed at establishing a real dialogue on human rights," the organisation said. "Journalists are being held in custody without charge in defiance of the most basic rights. Some of them are suffering as a result of their prison conditions and need medical attention which has been denied to them," it added.

Intelligence ministry agents arrested freelance journalist, Yaghub Salaki Nia, a contributor to several banned media, including Shamesse Tabriz, Ahrar, Omid Zanjan, on 31 October. His house was searched and his work equipment and papers were seized. The journalist has also founded an organisation dedicated to the defence of political prisoners in the Iranian province of Azerbaijan. He was taken to Evin jail and it is not known what charges he faces. His family was able to visit him, on 5 November in the presence of prison warders and on the condition they did not discuss the issue of his imprisonment.

Elsewhere, the Authorisation and Surveillance Commission of the Press on 23 September suspended political monthly Dilmaj, founded in 2004, but no reason was given. The quarterly Madresseh was suspended on 5 November for "apostasy". The philosophical review had published an interview in its latest edition with an intellectual cleric, Mohammad Mojtahed Shabesstary, who carries out research into the Koran. Iranian leaders took the view that his remarks were "insulting of sacred texts".

The European Parliament voted a resolution on 25 October 2007 (hypertext link) condemning Iranian human rights violations. The EU recognised that "the situation in the Islamic Republic in relation to civil rights and political freedoms has deteriorated in the last two years, particularly since presidential elections in June 2005", the date on which Mahmud Ahmadinejad came to power. The European Union also called for the "unconditional release of prisoners of conscience, particularly journalists Emadoldin Baghi, Ako Kurdnasab, Ejlal Ghavami, Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand, Said Matinpour, Adnan Hassanpour, Abdolvahed Botimar, Kaveh Javanmard and Mohammad Hassan Fallahieh".

Ten journalists are currently in jail in Iran. Among them Said Matinpour, a contributor to the weekly Azeri-language Yarpagh who is being held at the intelligence services prison in his home city of Zanjan, 330 kilometres north-west of the capital, where he is waiting to learn what he is accused of. He was previously held at Evin prison but was transferred closer to his family. Since his arrest on 28 May 2007, the journalist, who has been held in solitary confinement, has only been able to see his parents twice. His wife and his lawyer have so far been refused the right to visit him. His wife, Atieh Hidary, told Reporters Without Borders that she was "very worried about his health".

Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand, editor of the weekly Payam-e mardom-e Kurdestan, is suffering from kidney and digestive problems and has to make a written request to the prison authorities to be allowed to use the toilet. Reporters Without Borders has obtained information that he has been put under huge pressure to deny reports published by the Human Rights Organisation of Kurdistan, of which he is a founding member. Mohammad Sadegh Kabovand is facing trial for "acting against national security".

Emadoldin Baghi, journalist and human rights activist, also held at Evin prison, since 14 October 2007 (hypertext link press release of 24.10) has been able to receive visits from his family. They have reported that the journalist, who is in solitary confinement, is being subjected to "brutal interrogation" by intelligence ministry agents. Emadoldin Baghi has so far refused to respond to their questions and has demanded to be tried by a popular jury. He is accused of "publishing secret government documents with the help of detained prisoners to damage security in special establishments".

Iran is in 166th place out of 169 on Reporters Without Borders' latest world press freedom rankings of October 2007.

... Payvand News - 11/09/07 ... --

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