Iran News ...


09/05/08

Iran's Supreme court quashes journalist's death sentence

Reporters Without Borders calls for his release and dismissal of the case

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed with great relief the ruling by the Tehran Supreme Court overturning a death sentence against Kurdish journalist Adnan Hassanpour because of a procedural error.

The court decided that the journalist, who had been convicted of "subversive activities against national security", could not be considered as a "mohareb" (an enemy of God) and sent his case back to the lower court in Sanandaj, in Iranian Kurdistan.

Hassanpour, 26, was arrested outside his home on 25 January 2007 and was imprisoned in Mahabad jail (Kurdistan). He worked for the weekly Asou covering Kurdish issues, a highly sensitive subject in Iran, until it was banned by the Culture and Islamic Orientation Ministry in August 2005. He also contributed to foreign media such as Voice of America and Radio Farda, broadcasting to Iran in Persian.

He was being held at the central jail in Sanandaj and had twice gone on hunger strike in protest at the harsh prison conditions.

"We welcome this ruling by the Iranian justice system with great relief," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "It is now time to free this journalist who has been through agony since his arrest more than 18 months ago."

"There was never any evidence of his guilt, but despite this, the judges in the case have twice decided to sentence him to death. This judicial hounding of independent journalists and those working for foreign media has got to stop," the organisation said.

His lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, told Reporters Without Borders of his satisfaction at the outcome. "I just hope that the courts will not make the same mistake again", he said. He added that one of the judges at the court in Sanandaj, who presided at Hassanpour's trial, had since been sacked. A new trial is due to open before the Sanandaj lower court on 6 September 2008.

In another case, The Commission for Press Authorisation and Surveillance, headed by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Orientation, on 13 August 2008 cancelled the licence of two weekly newspapers. The ecological magazine Tarabestan Sabaz, press organ of an activist body of the same name published in Tehran for ten years, was shut down by the authorities. Entertainment newspaper Sargarmi, specialising in crosswords, was closed for "publishing inappropriate comments" after the newspaper carried a page of texts from readers some of which included humorous messages about Iranian political leaders.

... Payvand News - 09/05/08 ... --



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