IRAN - Woman journalist held for more than a month without seeing lawyer



    MONTREAL, July 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders calls on the
Iranian authorities to release journalist Mahboubeh Karami of the government
news agency ISNA at once. She has not seen a lawyers since her arrest in
Tehran on 13 June after criticising police for beating demonstrators. The
organisation is also concerned about the suspension of two weekly newspapers
in the west of the country in the past three weeks.
    "Mahboubeh Karami's detention constitutes a denial of justice," Reporters
Without Borders said. "The authorities reacted in a disproportionate manner,
with the aim of frightening all those who might dare to criticise abuse of
authority. At the same time, the arbitrary suspension of newspapers must stop.
At least 15 have been banned since the start of the year."
    Karami was on a bus in which demonstrators sought refuge from the police
who were pursuing them, and she was arrested after protesting about the
behaviour of the police. She is being held on a charge of "activity against
national security" in security section 209 of Tehran's Evin prison, where she
was in solitary confinement until she staged a hunger strike. Now she is being
held with other detainees.
    Reporters Without Borders has learned that she has been interrogated many
times about her activities as a journalist and as activist in the "One million
signatures" campaign for the amendment of laws that discriminate against
women.
    Human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi told Reporters
Without Borders that Karami's arrest "did not comply with Iranian law." An
exorbitant amount of bail, 100 million toumen (80,000 euros), has been
demanded for her release.
    Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance suspended Bahar
Borujerd, a weekly based in Borujerd, in the western province of Lorestan, on
2 July for allegedly publishing inaccurate information. Its editor, Mostafa
Rahabar, said the authorities gave no other explanation. Rahabar was briefly
arrested in August 2007 for criticising Borujerd University's repressive
policy on wearing a headscarf.
    Another local weekly, Paygam Borujerd, was suspended at the behest of a
local revolutionary court in April.
    Botak, a weekly based in the nearby province of Ilam, was suspended at
the behest of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on 19 July after
publishing an article critical of the province's governor.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Secretary General,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521 4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org,
www.rsfcanada.org

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