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Iran - Press freedom violations recounted in real time (from 1st January 2013)

Source: Reporters Without Borders - Wed, 22 May 2013 15:56 GMT
Author: Reporters Without Borders
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22.05.2013-IRAN - Crackdown on news

Websites blocked, journalists and netizens under pressure

Reporters Without Borders condemns a week-old wave of censorship targeting Iranian and international websites in the run-up to the 14 June presidential election. Websites that support various presidential candidates and online services such as Google and Yahoo! have been blocked.

The site blocking was indicative of the tension among the various conservative factions prior to yesterday's announcement by the Guardian Council of the list of approved candidates. The regime began reinforcing its system of Internet filtering on 4 May and network cuts have been becoming more and more frequent since then.

Four websites that support outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government and provide information about his top aide and preferred candidate, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei - Meyarnews (http://meyarnews.com/), Roshanaee (http://roshanaee.ir/), Baharana (http://www.baharna.ir/) and Bahaaronline (http://www.bahaaronline.ir/) - were closed on the orders of the Working Group for Determining Criminal Content.

The Working Group also ordered the closure of two websites - Aftabnews (http://aftabnews.ir/) and Ayandenews (http://www.ayandenews.com/) - which support former reformist president and current Expediency Council chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, another would-be candidate. The daily newspaper Bar's website (http://www.baharnews.ir/) has also been inaccessible since yesterday.

At the same time, many journalists based in both Tehran and the provinces have been summoned for questioning by the Revolutionary Guards or the intelligence ministry. Most of them support either Mashaei or Rafsanjani, the two most prominent figures whose candidacies were blocked by the Guardian Council yesterday.

Journalists who support other independent candidates or government opponents were also summoned and questioned for several hours. During interrogation, they were asked to stop supporting "candidates who do not follow Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's line."

Other journalists - mostly former political prisoners - were summoned by the intelligence ministry and told to "choose between prison or taking a vacation until the elections are over."

Foad Sadeghi, the editor of the news Baztab Emrooz, was arrested on 18 May after being summoned by the Tehran prosecutor's officer. Ali Ghazali, the site's manager, was already arrested on 4 May.

Detainees who had been let out of prison on various grounds have been told to report back to prison. They include the following journalists and netizens: Bahaman Ahamadi Amoee, Masoud Bastani, Shiva Nazar Ahari and Hossein Ronaghi Maleki. All of them have been told to return to prison by today at the latest.

Most of these prisoners had been given medical leave. Maleki, a human rights activist who was arrested on 13 December 2010 and was given a 17-year jail sentence, has undergone several kidney operations and is in extremely poor health. Nonetheless, he has been ordered to return to Tehran's Evin prison today.

A court in Tabriz, the capital of the northwestern province of East Azerbaijan, sentenced Maleki to an additional five months in prison and a fine of 50,000 toman (32 euros) on 29 April on a charge of "endangering public health" for something he did while on medical leave.

On 11 August 2012, Maleki participated in an initiative by civil society activists and Internet users aimed at helping the victims of an earthquake in East Azerbaijan, after the authorities blocked the circulation of any information about the disaster for several days. Ten of them were arrested a week later.

10.04.2013 - Two bloggers arrested

Reporters Without Borders has learned of the arrests of two bloggers in the past two weeks.

Mojtaba Daneshtalab, a blogger Daneshtalab, who supports President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was arrested yesterday to begin serving a six-month sentence on a charge of insulting regime officials and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

Daneshtalab was originally summoned and tried by a Tehran revolutionary court on 10 May 2012, but the prosecutor objected to the outcome. It was when he was tried again in January 2013 that he given the six-month jail term and was fined 100,000 toman (70 euros).

He is one several pro-Ahmadinejad journalists and bloggers who have been questioned or prosecuted at the behest of the Tehran state prosecutor for criticizing Ayatollah Khamenei's allies or taking controversial positions as part of their support for the president. More and more conservative news providers are falling victim to the rivalry between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad factions.

Reza Akvanian, a blogger based in the southwestern city of Yasoj who edits the Good Dog Years blog , was arrested on 29 March. After visiting him on 6 April, his family reported that he was in a "deplorable state" and that "his body bears the marks of blows."

It seems he has been mistreated since his arrest with the aim of extracting a confession. He was previous arrested in February 2010 and was given a six-year sentence on a charge of insulting senior government officials.

11.03.2013 - Paper closed, journalist arrested, another freed on bail

Reporters Without Borders condemns the closure of the daily Maghreb today, one day after it published an open letter to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, protesting against "illegal and arbitrary newspaper censors."

The closure was ordered by the Press Authorization and Surveillance Commission, an offshoot of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

It came five days after Maghreb managing editor, Mohammad Mehdi Emami Naseri, and its political editor, Alireza Aghairad, were arrested at the newspaper by officials from the Tehran prosecutor's officer, who released them on bail the next day pending trial.

Reporters Without Borders has learned that Masoud Kurdpour, a contributor to the Mokeryan news website, was arrested on 8 March after being summoned for interrogation by the intelligence ministry in the northwestern city of Mahabad.

This was one day after his brother, Mokeryan editor Khosro Kurdpour, was arrested at his home in Mahabad for still unknown reasons and was taken to a still unknown place of detention.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned that Etemad journalist Ehssan Mazandarani, who was arrested at his Tehran home by intelligence ministry officials on 20 February, was released on bail yesterday pending trial.

08.03.2013 - Kurdish journalist arrested, newspaper editor and netizen released

Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday's arrest of Kurdish journalist Khosro Kurdpour, the editor of the Mokeryan news website. His family said intelligence ministry plainclothes men with a court warrant arrested him at his home in the northwestern city of Mahabad after carrying out a search.

Kurdpour is accused of "publishing reports about the situation of prisoners and human rights."

Mohammad Mehdi Emami Naseri, the editor of the daily Maghreb, was meanwhile released on bail yesterday in Tehran pending trial.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned that Hanieh Sate Farshi, a netizen detained since July 2010 and sentenced to seven years in prison on 16 April 2011, was released on 24 February because she is very ill.

28.02.2013- One journalist arrested, ten "Black Sunday" detainees freed on bail

Reporters Without Borders has learned that Ehssan Mazandarani, a journalist with the newspaper Etemad, was arrested at his Tehran home on 20 February by intelligence ministry officials, who searched his home and confiscated his computer, hard disks and CDs. Mazandarani was taken to Evin prison.

At the same, Reporters Without Borders is relieved that 10 of the "Black Sunday" detainees have been released during the past 12 days pending trial. They are:

Fatemeh Sagharchi, a journalist with the Jamaran website, freed on 16 February Javad Daliri, the editor of Etemad, freed on 18 February Hossein Yaghchi, a journalist with the weekly Aseman, freed on 20 February Kivan Mehregan, a contributor to various reformist newspapers, freed on 23 February Emily Amrai and Nargus Jodaki of the newspaper Arman, freed on 25 February Akbar Montajabi of the weekly Aseman and Rihaneh Tabtabai of the newspaper Bahar, freed on 26 February Milad Fadai Asl of the news agency ILNA and Porya Alami of the daily Shargh, freed on 27 February.

There were released on bail, which in most cases was set at 200 million toman (about 250,000 euros). Five other victims of the latest wave of arrests are still held. They are Sasan Aghai, Nasrin Takhayori, Saba Azarpik, Pejman Mousavi and Soliman Mohammadi.

Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all the journalists and netizens detained in Iran. Help us to achieve this demand by signing our petition.

13.02.2013- Recently arrested journalist freed on bail

Reporters Without Borders has learned that Ali Dehghan, a journalist with the daily Bahar who was arrested at his home on 30 January in a new crackdown on media personnel, was released on bail on 6 February.

At least 17 journalists have been arrested since 26 January and warrants have been issued for the arrests of others. Only one other is so far known to have been released. It is Motahareh Shafie of the newspaper Arman, who was freed the day after his arrest on 27 January.

Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about the conditions in which the 15 other journalists are being held in Evin prison's Section 209, which is controlled by the intelligence ministry. They are still in solitary confinement and are being denied all their rights, including family visits and access to a lawyer.

22.01.2013-Two journalists get provisional release

Reporters Without Borders has learned that Rahim Sarkar, the editor of the weekly Hadiss Ghazvin, was released provisionally on 11 January pending trial after being held since 25 December. And Mohammad Kimyai, one of the weekly's reporters, was released on bail of 100 million toman (100,000 euros) on 14 January after being held for two weeks.

11.01.2013-Six-month jail sentence for talking to foreign media

Reporters Without Borders has learned that, Hossein Karoubi, executive director of the banned daily Etemad Meli and son of its owner, Mehdi Karoubi, was sentenced to six months in prison in July 2012 for talking to foreign media about the mistreatment of prisoners in Kahrizak prison.

He was convicted on a charge of "disseminating false information designed to upset public opinion."

Normally reserved for non-political prisoners, Kahrizak was used to hold government opponents after the disputed June 2009 presidential elections and several young detainees reportedly died of their injuries after being mistreated.

Etemad Meli was banned on 17 August 2009 for publishing articles about torture and rape in Iranian prisons. Three weeks earlier, on 29 July 2009, Mehdi Karoubi had released an open letter in which he said young detainees were being subjected to grave forms of mistreatment including rape.

04.01.2013- Netizen begins serving two-year jail term, journalist freed

Reporters Without Borders has learned that Sayeed Haeri, a netizen and member of the Human Rights Reporters Committee, was arrested on 12 December after responding to a summons to Tehran's Evin prison and has begun serving a two-year jail sentence on a charge of anti-government propaganda.

Originally arrested on 20 December 2009, he was released conditionally on 11 March 2010 on bail of 500 million toman (500,000 euros). In September 2010, a Tehran revolutionary court sentenced him to two and a half years in prison and 74 lashes. An appeal court reduced the sentence to two years in prison six months later.

Two other members of the Human Rights Reporters Committee are already in prison. They are Shiva Nazar Ahari, who was arrested on 8 September 2012, and Sayeed Jalali Far, who was arrested on 30 July 2011. Ahari is serving a four-year sentence while Far is serving a three-year sentence.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned that Reza Ansari Rad, a journalist who worked for several reformist news outlets, was released on 15 December after being deemed to have completed a one-year sentence on a charge of anti-government propaganda.

Imposed in 2010, the sentence was upheld by a Tehran appeal court in March 2012 and Rad began serving it on 4 May.

Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January-December 2012)

Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January-December 2011)

Press freedom violations recounted in real time (July-December 2010)

Press freedom violations recounted in real time (January-July 2010)

Press freedom violations recounted in real time (June-December 2009)

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