Iran - Journalist imprisoned on spying charge goes on hunger strike to press for the right to an appeal



    MONTREAL, Oct. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today voiced
its concern about the state of health of journalist Mohammad Hassin Falahieh
Zadeh who has been on hunger strike since 5 October, taking only sugared
water.
    The worldwide press freedom organisation joins his family and his lawyer
in calling on him to end his fast, in Section 350 of Evin jail, Teheran.
    The journalist, who works for the Arabic-language service of Iranian
state-run radio and television al-Alam was arrested in November 2006 and was
sentenced on 29 April 2007 to three years for "espionage".
    He was also fined an amount equivalent to double his income from his
journalist work. He also contributed to several Arab media, the Lebanese daily
al-Mostaqbal, Abu Dhabi TV and Dubai radio.
    "Mohammad Zadeh is the journalist serving the longest prison term in
Iranian jails. Convicted at a trial behind closed doors and without his lawyer
and detained with common-law prisoners, the journalist considers he has no
other option in the face of the injustice he is suffering", Reporters Without
Borders.
    He suffers from thalassemia, a genetic illness that leads to anaemia. The
journalist's harsh conditions in jail, linked to his hunger strike, could have
a very serious effect on his vital organs. His lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, told
Reporters Without Borders that his client had started his fast to press for an
appeal of his trial. The lawyer has never had access to the journalist's court
file.
    His wife, Bayan Falahieh Zadh, and their three-year-old son, who live in
the southern city of Khorramshahr, more than 1,000 kilometres from the
capital, have not been able to visit him since he started his fast. "Every
time we speak to him on the phone we urge him not to continue his hunger
strike. He says that he will end it when he is allowed to see his lawyer", she
told the organisation.
    In another case, the Mahabad revolutionary court in Kurdistan on 15
October 2008 sentenced Kurdish journalist Massud Kurdpoor to one year in
prison for "publicity against the regime in interviews with foreign and enemy
media". His lawyer Abass Jamali said he had been placed in solitary
confinement and denied all contact with his family. Kurdpoor, who is a
teacher, gave interviews to a number of foreign radio stations - Voice of
America, Radio France International, and Deutsche Welle - condemning
deteriorating human rights in Kurdistan. He is held in jail in Mahabad, the
region's main city.
    Nine journalists and one cyber-dissident are currently being held in
Iran, the Middle East's largest prison for journalists, Reporters Without
Borders said.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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