New York, December 29, 2009—The Iranian government, struggling to silence the many critical voices in the country, has arrested at least 11 journalists since Sunday, including former International Press Freedom Award recipient Mashallah Shamsolvaezin and the prominent writer Emadeddin Baghi. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the arrests and called for the release of all detained journalists, who now number more than 30.
arrest of every journalist in
The new arrests come amid massive
demonstrations in the streets of
Shamsolvaezin, journalist and spokesman
for the Iranian Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press, was arrested
Shamsolvaezin is former editor of the reformist dailies Jame’eh, Tous,
Neshati, and Asr-e
Azadegan, which were successively shut down by
Shamsolvaezin has been highly critical of government policies for many years.
In a World Press Freedom Day message sent to CPJ from Evin Prison in 2001, he said the day was one “of
memories, risks, and hopes for journalists all over the world, especially the
oppressed Iranian journalists.” He added: “World Press Freedom Day gives us the
opportunity to remind those who covertly or overtly are involved in jailing
journalists and breaking their pens that they can never kill the thought of
freedom.” Most recently, Shamsolvaezin
has been an outspoken advocate for a free press in
Baghi, a prominent Iranian author, journalist, and human rights activist, was arrested Monday after being summoned to the security division of the Revolutionary Court, according to the reformist Ayandeh News Web site. Baghi has been arrested numerous times in the past. In 2000, he was sentenced to five and a half years in prison on charges of “questioning Islamic law,” “threatening national security,” and “spreading unsubstantiated news” in articles detailing the roles of intelligence agents in a series of politically motivated murders. He served three years in prison before being released. He was arrested again in 2007 and served several months for “acting against national security,” according to local and international news reports.
“We condemn the continued harassment of
At least nine other journalists have been arrested since Sunday, CPJ research shows. Alireza Beheshti Shirazi, editor-in-chief of the now-defunct reformist daily Kalameh Sabz, was taken from his home to an unknown location on Monday, according to international news reports. Shirazi was previously arrested in June after he gave interviews to foreign-language news media about the post-election turmoil.
Kayvan Mehregan, editor of the political section of the reformist daily Etemad was arrested on Monday, according to local news reports. His wife, Badressadat Mofidi, secretary of the Iranian Journalists Association, was also arrested, according to the same sources. Modifi had discussed the government’s press policies in a December 22 interview with the Persian service of the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Nasrin Naziri, a reporter for the Iranian Labor News Agency and the news Web site Khabar Online, was arrested today, according to Jahan News, a news Web site close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both Naziri and Mofidi were arrested for “their role in recent riots” Jahan News said.
Author and journalist Mostafa Izadi was arrested at his home on Monday, according to the reformist news Web site Advar News. He worked for the recently banned daily Etemad-e-Melli. Between 1997 and 2000, he was chief editor of the reformist Ava Weekly, which the government shut for promoting antistate positions.
Reza Tajik and Sam Mahmoudi Sarabi, journalists for the reformist daily Etemad, were arrested on Monday according to local news reports and the BBC Persian service. Tajik was arrested as he arrived at the newspaper’s offices, the opposition Web site Jaras reported. Tajik had already been jailed for 46 days during the government’s post-election crackdown.
Javad Saberi was arrested Sunday by
plainclothes agents near
Local and international
news reports said Reza al-Basha, a
Syrian journalist working for state-owned Dubai TV, was detained by Iranian
authorities on Sunday. Al-Basha was picked up during anti-government protests
The arrests continue the Iranian government’s months-long assault on the press. In December, CPJ documented several other attacks. Authorities shut down a reformist daily and dispatched representatives to several newspapers, forbidding them to publish on their front pages photographs of the recently deceased Ayatollah Montazeri.
In the six months since the disputed presidential elections, scores of journalists have been detained, opposition and critical Web sites have been blocked, and authorities have censored or shut down newspapers on several occasions.