Thursday, August 2, 2007

Iranian Journalists Under Assault

The government arrested another journalist on Tuesday, Farshad Ghorbanpour. He was transferred to the notorious Security Section 209 at Evin prison. Reporters Without Borders reports the number of journalist and cyber-dissidents currently detained in Iran has risen to 11. Ghorbanpour worked for several publications including Roozonline.

Also on Tuesday, Emadoldin Baghi was sentenced to three years in prison. Baghi, 45, was released from prison in February 2004 after serving a three-year sentence. On leaving the prison, Mr. Baghi set up an organization to defend the rights of prisoners of conscious. He was banned from leaving the country and has been summoned for questioning by the ministry of intelligence on numerous occasions. He is now sentenced to another three years in prison.

Reporters Without Borders reports that Baghi’s wife and his daughter were also given three-year suspended prison sentences and five years of probation for taking part in a series of human rights workshops in Dubai in 2004. The charges were meeting and colluding with the aim of disrupting national security.

Along with Ghorbanpour, the government also arrested Masoud Bastani who was later released after questioning. Bastani was sentenced to six months in prison in 2003, 70 lashes and a five-year ban as a journalist. He was again imprisoned in 2005 after reporting on a demonstration for the release of Akbar Ganji.

Reporters Without Borders reports that another Roozonline journalist, Soheil Asefi, has also received a summons to appear before a court after prosecutor’s agents searched him home, taking personal documents and the hard disk of his computer.

On the same day, the government confirmed that two Kurdish journalists, Adnan Hassanpour and Abdolvahed “Hiva” Botimar, had been sentenced to death. A revolutionary court in Marivan, Kurdistan had charged them as “mahareb,” or enemies of God.

Reporters Without Borders is circulating a petition for the release of the two journalists sentenced to death.

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