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With 52 journalists in jail, Iran hits new, shameful record


Source: Committee to Protect Journalists

Election Trial
More than 100 dissidents and journalists faced vague antistate accusations during a mass judicial
proceeding in August 2009.

The number of journalists in jail rose in February as a relentless media crackdown continues in Iran. Authorities are now holding at least 52 journalists in prison, a third of all those in jail around the world, according to the latest monthly survey by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"Iran is entering a state of permanent media repression, a situation that is not only appalling but also untenable," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The Iranian government will eventually lose the war against information, but we are saddened every day that our colleagues are paying such a terrible price."

Some of the imprisoned Iranian journalists

Twelve journalists were imprisoned in February alone, although seven were released. The January census recorded 47 in jail. CPJ has joined forces with leading press freedom organizations from around the world in a campaign to win the release of journalists jailed in Iran. An online petition that will be sent to Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei later this month is available on the site.

In light of the Iranian government's ongoing crackdown, CPJ has been conducting a monthly survey of journalists imprisoned in Iran. (CPJ normally conducts a worldwide survey of jailed journalists each December.) The survey, conducted on the first of each month, is a snapshot of those incarcerated on that date. It does not include more than 50 other journalists in Iran who have been imprisoned and released on bail over the last several months. Five of those now in jail were detained prior to the 2009 crackdown.

Imprisoned reporter Shiva Nazar Ahari

The current detainees include internationally known figures such as Emadeddin Baghi, the author and human rights defender, Mohammad Davari, an editor who helped expose prisoner abuse at the Kahrizak Detention Center, and Shiva Nazar Ahari, a human rights reporter who has been jailed twice in the last nine months and is being held in solitary confinement.

In most cases, authorities have filed vague antistate charges such as "propagation against the regime," insulting authorities, and disrupting public order. But many cases are shrouded in secrecy, without even formal charges being disclosed.

Some detainees have already been sentenced to lengthy prison terms, lashes, internal exile, and lifetime bans on writing and other social and political activities. The cases of many others are pending. At least two face heresy charges that, upon conviction, would bring the death penalty.

Currently, China is the world's second largest jailer of journalists, with 24 in prison, followed by Cuba, with 22. The number of jailed journalists is the highest CPJ has recorded in a single country since December 1996, when it documented 78 imprisonments in Turkey.

Read capsule reports on each journalist jailed in Iran

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