Iran - Confessions, arrests and a campaign against the media



    MONTREAL, June 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today
condemned a parade of Iranian demonstrators being shown on a loop on state-run
TV confessing to having protested at the behest of foreign media.
    All demonstrators make their confessions using the same words that have
opened the nightly news bulletin for the past week: "Bismillah, al-rahman
al-rahim. I admit that I demonstrated under the influence of the BBC, the
radio Voice of America and other foreign media".
    The confessions are aired at every hour of the day and night to show
Iranians the extent to which those disputing the presidential election were
persuaded by western agents to take part in an "orchestrated plot" against the
Islamic Republic of Iran, confirming the words of the Supreme Leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
    "These methods are aimed at denigrating foreign media, who are already
facing huge obstacles to their work and whose journalists and contributors are
exposed as a result to the threat of violence from supporters of the regime,"
the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
    Iranian journalists are also still being demonised and 180 of them on 23
June wrote an open letter addressed to Iran's leaders and people, protesting
at the "deplorable and critical" state of Iran's media and calling on the
authorities to respect the constitution, and to lift bans slapped on
journalist so they can do their job of informing the public. "This harassment
and intimidation prevents us from doing our duty", the 180 signatories said.
    Reporters Without Borders condemned the arrests on 22 June of all 25
staff on the newspaper Kalemeh Sabz, including around 20 journalists. The
paper, owned by opposition presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Moussavi,
stopped publishing on 13 June although it was not officially banned. It had
intended to resume appearing and to bring out a new issue on 23 June but on
the evening of 22 June, plain clothes agents from Tehran's prosecutor's office
surrounded the building and arrested everyone inside. The editor, Alireza
Behshtipour Shirazi, might also have arrested the same evening reportedly in
company with his son. Minutes before his arrest Shirazi had confirmed the
earlier arrest of his entire staff, in an interview with German radio Deutsche
Welle.
    "Arresting an entire editorial staff is totally unprecedented", Reporters
Without Borders protested.
    Questioned about the arrest of foreign journalists during demonstrations,
the intelligence minister, Mohseni Ejehi, said that "one or two people who
came to gather secret information were arrested, but not as journalists. One
of them had his equipment confiscated and he is now the subject of an
investigation."
    President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering, said he
planned to go to Iran, in response to an invitation from Nobel Peace Prize
laureat, Shirin Ebadi. She told Reporters Without Borders, "At all the
meetings I have had with officials from from the European Union, I demanded
that they condemn the massive human rights violations in Iran. I also urged
the UN Secretary General to send an investigative mission to the country. I
insist on the fact that this is not a political conflict, but a fresh instance
of mass human rights violations in Iran."
    Reporters Without Borders' secretary general, Jean-François Julliard
yesterday called for the release of arrested Iranian and foreign journalists,
at a press conference he gave in Paris with Iranian-American journalist,
Roxana Saberi, who was held in an Iranian jail for several months earlier this
year.
    Agence France-Presse has since 23 June posted photos taken for the press
freedom organisation by Iranian photographers on its pictures forum.
    Two journalists, who were arrested on 16 June in the city of Bushehr in
the south-west of Iran, Hamideh Mahhozi and Hossin Shkohi were released two
days later, the organisation learned. The cyber-dissident, Kaveh Mozfari,
arrested on the fringe of demonstrations on 1st May, was released on 24 June
after putting up bail of 50 million tomans (45,000 euros).

    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, Iranian television producer
    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.
    Said 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.

    16 June:

    Mohammad Ali Abtahi, nicknamed "Mullah blogger", was arrested at his home
 in Tehran. His blog: http://www.webneveshteha.com/.
    Mrs 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).

    17 June:

    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 Shassavar, journalist in Mashad, detained the same date.

    18 June:

    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.

    20 June:

    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 (less
than)http://irwomen.net(greater than) ). Her husband Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee,
works for several pro-reformist publications.

    21 June:

    Correspondent for Newsweek, Maziar Bahari, arrested at 7am by security
forces at his home.

    22 June:

    Mostafa Ghavnlo Ghajar, contributor to several newspapers, a specialist
in foreign media on Radio Goftogo, was arrested at his home. His blog:
http://www.ghajar.ir/ .
    Iason Athanasiadis, Greek-British journalist on the Washington Times

    25 staff and journalists on Kalemeh Sabz arrested, including the editor,
Alireza Behshtipour Shirazi.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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