A crackdown against journalists and cyber-dissidents is continuing in Iran with both Iranian and foreign journalists caught in the eye of the post-election storm, Reporters Without Borders said. Among the latest arrests was that of a correspondent for the US magazine Newsweek, Maziar Bahari, picked up at his home in Tehran on 21 June.
“The authorities are using all possible methods to drive foreign journalists out of Iran, where they are unwanted witnesses to bloody repression,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The arrest of the Newsweek correspondent is a clear sign of the regime’s determination to intimidate journalists whether Iranian or foreign, local or international newspaper correspondents.”
The latest arrests bring the number of journalists picked up and imprisoned since the disputed presidential election to 26.
“After demonising the foreign media, the authorities are trying to have it believed that Iranian journalists are spies in the pay of foreigners, confusing news reporting with spying”, it added.
The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, on 23 June urged the Iranian authorities to respect fundamental civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, the right to inform the public and of free assembly.
The Iran security services went to the home of Bahari, aged 41, early in the morning and seized his computer and video recordings. He had been interrogated on 17 June by the Guardians of the Revolution about one of his video recordings relating to the death of a demonstrator. His family said that they have had no news of him since his arrest, according to information obtained by Reporters Without Borders. Newsweek put out a statement yesterday strongly condemning his arrest and calling for his immediate release.
Elsewhere, Reporters Without Borders learned of the arrest at midnight yesterday at his home of Mostafa Ghavnlo Ghajar, a contributor to several newspapers and a specialist on foreign media on Radio Goftogo (see his blog : http://www.ghajar.ir/). Freelance journalist Fariborez Srosh was also reportedly arrested on 16 June. He has been imprisoned in the past because of his work with Radio farda (Radio Free Europe).
The organisation is very concerned by early reports of torture and maltreatment in Evin prison, where most of those arrested are being held. According to information obtained by the organisation, the journalists were transferred to Section 209 of the jail where they are coming under heavy pressure to make filmed “confessions” about their “involvement in a velvet revolution”.
Eleven days after the presidential election, 26 journalists are currently behind bars. With a total of 36 journalists now jailed, Iran is the world’s biggest prison for journalists, ahead of China and Cuba.
14 June 2009:
- Cyber-dissident Somaieh Tohidlou (http://smto.ir)
- Ahmad Zeydabadi,
- Kivan Samimi Behbani,
- Abdolreza Tajik,
- Mahssa Amrabadi,
- Behzad Basho, cartoonist
- Khalil Mir Asharafi,
- Karim Arghandeh, journalist for reformist newspapers Salam, Vaghieh etafaghieh, and blogger (http://www.futurama.ir/) was arrested at his home in Tehran.
- Shiva Nazar Ahari, cyber-dissident and human rights activists (see his blog: http://azadiezan.blogspot.com), was arrested at his home in the capital.
15 June 2009:
- Mohamad Atryanfar, editor of several publications like Hamshary, Shargh, Shahrv and Emrouz, was reportedly transferred to the security section of Evin jail.
- Saïd Hajarian, former newspaper editor Sobh-e-Emrouz, was arrested by the security forces overnight on 15-16 June at his Tehran home despite the fact that he is handicapped.
- Mojtaba Pormohssen, journalist on several reformist papers, contributor to radio Zamaneh and editor of the newspaper Gilan Emroz, was arrested in Rashat in the north of the country.
- Mohammad Ali Abtahi, nicknamed “Mullah blogger“, was arrested at his home in Tehran. His blog: http://www.webneveshteha.com/.
- Hamideh Mahhozi, arrested in Boshehr, south of Iran
- Amanolah Shojai, journalist and blogger arrested in Boshehr
- Hossin Shkohi, journalist on the weekly Paygam Jonob, arrested in Boshehr
- Mashalah Hidarzadeh, arrested in Boshehr
- Fariborez Srosh, freelance journalist reportedly arrested the same day. Imprisoned in the past because of his work with Radio farda (Radio Free Europe).
- Saide Lylaz, journalist on newspaper Sarmayeh, arrested at his home in the capital. The financial specialist has been an outspoken critic of the policies of President Ahmadinejad.
- Rohollah Shavar, journalist in Mashad, detained the same date.
- Mohammad Ghochani, editor of the daily Etemad Meli, owner of Mehdi Karoubi, one of the candidates opposing Mahmoud Ahamadinejad in the presidential elections, arrested in Tehran at 2am.
- Ali Mazroui, president of the Iranian Association of journalists, arrested in the morning.
- Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee and his wife Jila Baniyaghoob arrested at their home at midnight, following a search by plain clothes agents of the intelligence ministry. Winner in 2009 of the Courage in Journalism prize, awarded by the International Women’s Media Foundation, Jila Baniyaghoob is head of a feminist news website Canon Zeman Irani (http://irwomen.net). Her husband Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee, works for several pro-reformist publications. .
- Correspondent for Newsweek, Maziar Bahari, arrested at 7am by security forces at his home. .
- Mostafa Ghavnlo Ghajar, contributor to several newspapers and specialist in foreign media on Radio Gotogo, arrested at his home. His blog: http://www.ghajar.ir/.