IRAN - Travesty of justice continues, with six journalists among defendants



    MONTREAL, Aug. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - The fourth hearing in the mass trial of
critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection was held before a
revolutionary tribunal in Tehran today. The defendants include six journalists
- Saeed Hajjarian, Saeed Lylaz, Ahmad Zeydabadi, Saeed Shariti, Mohammad
Ghochani and Masoud Bastani.
    "The trial continued to be a travesty at today's hearing," Reporters
Without Borders said. "All human rights activists in Iran and abroad must
react to this sad spectacle of confessions extracted under torture, denial of
rights and collective indictments, which are banned under Iranian law."
    The press freedom organisation added: "The journalists are on trial
simply for doing their job, which was to inform Iranian citizens about the
demonstrations taking place at a time when the authorities wanted to suppress
all the negative reports and images of a country in crisis."
    Although seriously disabled, Hajjarian has been mistreated and tortured
during detention and had to be hospitalised. Arrested four days after the
disputed 12 June election, he was forced to confess and ask the Supreme Leader
and the Iranian people to forgive him.
    As he is unable to talk because of his physical disabilities, his
confession was read out in court by another of the detained journalists,
Shariti, who has himself been held since 29 July. Hajjarian's lawyer,
Gholamali Riahai, refused to attend the hearing and resigned, after again
being denied access to his client's prosecution file.
    None of the journalists' lawyers have been able to meet their clients or
see their charge sheets since the start of trial. The Tehran
prosecutor-general instead appointed lawyers with links to the intelligences
services to defend them.
    Conditions in Iran's prisons are generally appalling. Mehdi Karoubi, one
of the pro-reform presidential candidates, claimed in a 29 July article that
young detainees have being subjected to particularly bad treatment including
rape.
    Several journalists have said that most detainees in Section 209 of
Tehran's Evin prison are mistreated and subjected to intense psychological
pressure. Zeydabadi, who was arrested on 14 June, told his family: "I was kept
in a cell that was like a tomb for 35 days, hearing nothing from outside,
seeing no one."
    Reporters Without Borders has meanwhile learned that Mahssa Amrabad, a
journalist who was arrested on 14 June, was freed yesterday after she paid
bail, and that Somayeh Tohidloo, the editor of the blog SMTO (http://smto.ir),
was freed on 22 August. Tohidloo was held in Section 209 of Evin prison after
being arrested at her home on 14 June.




For further information:

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

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