Iran - Detainees reportedly raped, another newspaper suspended in latest attacks on free speech



    MONTREAL, Aug. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is concerned
about the situation of imprisoned journalists, especially Kivan Samimi Behbani
and Henghameh Shahidi, and reiterates its condemnation of government
harassment of the print media, in which the latest case was yesterday's
suspension of former presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi's daily, Etemad-e
Melli, for publishing reports about torture and rape in Iran's prisons.
    "Like every other kind of person jailed since the 12 June presidential
election, journalists are being tortured and mistreated," Reporters Without
Borders said. "No one, not even their lawyers, has been able to get
information about their cases. The lives of these imprisoned journalists are
in danger. We would like representatives of the Office of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights to be allowed to enter Iran and visit the
prisons."
    Government agents prevented yesterday's issue of Etemad-e Melli from
leaving the printing press on the evening of 16 August because of an article
by Karoubi - one Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rivals in the June presidential
election - responding to attacks and criticism made against him in
pro-government newspapers.
    The criticism was prompted by a 29 July open letter about the
mistreatment of young detainees, in which Karoubi wrote: "Young people have
been brutally raped and have subsequently suffered depression and seriously
psychological and physical problems." Newspapers that support Ahmadinejad and
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reacted angrily, accusing him of disseminating
"false information."
    Yesterday, the Tehran public prosecutor's office notified the ministry of
culture and Islamic orientation's press office that Etemad-e Melli had been
suspended "until further notice" for "publishing illegal reports and articles
threatening national security."
    The prosecutor's office has been controlling newspapers since the day
after the presidential election. All reports and other forms of content are
checked before publication. In the past two months, Etemad-e Melli has been
printed several times with columns left blank because articles were censored.
    As regards detained journalists, Reporters Without Borders is
particularly worried about Behbani and Shahidi because it has been told that
they have been in solitary confinement since their arrests and are being
subjected to a great deal of pressure.
    The onetime editor of Nameh ("The Letter"), an independent weekly that
was suspended in 2005, Behbani is now a freelance journalist. He has not been
able to contact his family since his arrest on 13 June. Shahidi, who writes
for various pro-reform publications, was arrested on 29 June. Her mother, who
has only been able to visit her once, on 13 August, says she is very worried
about her health because she has heart problems.
    Reporters Without Borders has learned that Kaveh Mozafari, an online
journalist who was arrested on 9 July, was freed yesterday, while
photographers Marjan Abdolahyan and Satyar Emami were freed on 10 August.
Documentary filmmakers Mahnaz Mohammadi and Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, who were
arrested on 29 July in south Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, were released
in the first few days of August.
    All these releases are provisional. The journalists can be summoned and
re-imprisoned at any time while waiting for their cases to come to trial.




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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